Optimal Decision Mechanisms for Committees: Acquitting the Guilty

Alex Winter (Bonn University)

November 21, 2023, 11:00–12:30


Room Auditorium 3

Economic Theory Seminar


A group of privately informed agents chooses between two alternatives. How should the decision rule be designed if agents are known to be biased in favor of one of the options? We address this question by considering the Condorcet Jury Setting as a mechanism design problem. Applications include the optimal decision mechanisms for boards of directors, political committees, and trial juries. While we allow for any kind of mechanism, the optimal mechanism is a voting mechanism. In the terminology of the trial jury example: When jurors (agents) are more eager to convict than the lawmaker (principal), then the defendant should be convicted if and only if neither too many nor too few jurors vote to convict. This kind of mechanism accords with a judicial procedure from ancient Jewish law.