Committees and Group Decision Making
What is Committee?
Committee is a group of persons to whom, as a group, some matter is committed. Its right purpose can result in greater motivation, improved problem solving, and increased output. Committees are prevalent in business. A board of directors is a committee, as are its various constituent groups, such as the executive committee, the finance committee, the audit committee, and the bonus committee. Occasionally, one finds a business managed by a management committee instead of a president.
In a study of subscribers to the Harvard Business Review, only 8 percent of the respondents indicated that they would eliminate committees if it were within their power. The problem, then, is not the existence of committees, but rather the way they are conducted and where they are used.
THE NATURE OF COMMITTEES
Because of varying authority assigned to committees, much confusion has resulted as to their nature. Some committees undertake managerial functions, and others do not. Some make decisions; others merely deliberate on problems without authority to decide. Some have authority to make recommendations to a manager, who may or may not accept them, while others are formed purely to receive information, without making recommendations or decisions.
A committee may be either line or staff, depending upon its authority. If its authority involves decision making affecting subordinates responsible to it, it is a plural executive—a line committee; if its authority relationship to a superior is advisory, then it is a staff committee.
Committees may also be formal or informal. If established as part of the organization structure, with specifically delegated duties and authority, they are formal. Most committees with any permanence fall into this class. Or they may be informal, that is, organized without specific delegation of authority and usually by some person desiring group thinking or group decision on a...