Committees and Status Quo Bias: Structural Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment

Nov 2014 | 733

Authors: Simon Quinn, Tom Gole

When members of a committee have incentives to agree with each other, they over-weight public information: this can generate status quo bias.  We test this hypothesis using a novel field experiment -  a large debate tournament with random assignment of judges to committees.  To analyse our experimental data, we develop a new structural methodology for estimating discrete dynamic Bayesian games using Markov Perfect Equililbrium.  Our method allows for correlated unobservable signals and for rational dynamic updating of coordination preferences along the equilibrium path.  Our structural estimates show that judges with greater desire to coordinate are more likely to vote for teams with better past records; this shows that, in a committee context, public information can cause coordination on weaker candidates.

JEL Codes: C57, C93

Keywords: committees, discrete games, identification, field experiments, discrimination

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