Veto power in committees: An experimental study

John H. Kagel, Hankyoung Sung, Eyal Winter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Veto power consists of the right of one or more players to unilaterally block decisions but without the ability to unilaterally secure their preferred outcome. Our experiment shows that (i) committees with a veto player take longer to reach decisions (are less efficient) and generate less consensus than without a veto player, (ii) veto power substantially enhances proposer's power, and (iii) non-veto players are substantially more willing to compromise than veto players. We relate our results to the theoretical literature on the impact of veto power as well as to concerns about the impact of veto power in real-life committees.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)167-188
Number of pages22
JournalExperimental Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We have benefited from valuable comments from Guillaume Fréchette, Tim Groseclose, and Alvin Roth, from seminar participants at University College London, California Institute of Technology, New York University, Harvard University, and the Midwest Economic Theory Conference, as well as from two referees and the editor of this journal. Kagel’s research was partially supported by the National Science Foundation and the Mershon Center at the Ohio State University. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the Mershon Center. Peter McGee provided valuable research assistance. Any errors and omissions are ours alone.


  • Bargaining
  • Committees
  • Veto power


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