After reading this article you will learn about the merits and demerits of committee.
Merits of Committee:
Committees are formed to carry out responsibilities that single individuals cannot and, thus, offer the benefits of group dynamics.
The committee form of organisation has the following merits:
1. Group Interaction:
When a committee is formed to look into organisational matters, group members interact with each other and arrive at solutions better than what could have been obtained by the individual alone. It pools the knowledge and experience of many people and takes diverse view of the problem.
Committees have members from different divisions with different backgrounds and perspectives. They can deliberate on a variety of alternatives and make a thorough insight into the problem.
2. Encourages Participation:
Committees involve participation of different departments which ensures better organisational decisions and their implementation. It also promotes management development as managers of different departments interact and share diverse view points on the same problem.
They get to know how their job is related to others and how inter-divisional focus can target the same goal. This develops managers who can hold higher positions in the organisations from within the organisation.
Committees help in fast communication of organisational decisions with respect to various policies, procedures, rules and business activities. Members communicate face-to-face, remove doubts on the spot and promote effective transmission of information. Common understanding of the subject matter is developed which promotes contribution to the objective for which committees are formed.
4. Unwillingness to Shoulder the Entire Responsibility:
Certain decisions like capital investment decisions (purchase of plant and machinery) involve huge amount of funds and are also irreversible. The departmental head often does not want to take such decisions alone and, thus, wants the committee to form its judgment.
In certain cases, committees are also formed because organisational members do not want decision-making authority to be centralised in a single individual. Committees provide a check on misuse of authority as decisions are jointly taken by members belonging to different departments. Purchase committee generally has a member from each of the functional departments to ensure that funds are not misused for the benefit of any single individual/division.
When people are involved in the decision-making process through committees, they are committed towards the objective and feel motivated to work towards the cause. Participation promotes ‘owning the problem and the solution’. People are involved and perform better. Committee members are representatives of their departments and, thus, work with complete commitment and motivation that ensures their capability to be part of specific committees.
Since committees work through interaction of members of different departments who share diverse views on the subject, it promotes co-ordination and the decisions are implemented effectively. It unifies the diverse viewpoints of a large number of people. Framing and implementing various plans (regarding purchase, leave rules, grievances, budget allocation, finance etc.) represents the coordinated and concerted viewpoint of all the members derived through first-hand information regarding the decision area.
7. Avoid Action:
Though not very common in practice, committees can be formed to delay the action. Sometimes, managers do not want some decision or action to be taken but they do not want to refuse taking the decision. They form committees or even sub-committees to result in delayed action.
Such decisions are usually those that may result in agitation or opposition, if taken by managers. Committees delay such actions and gain support of the opposition members before the decisions are finally taken.
Demerits of a Committee:
The committees suffer from the following limitations:
1. Financial Factors:
Committees involve opportunity cost if time spent by the chairperson and committee members on committee meetings can be spent elsewhere on more productive matters, to result in higher financial gains.
Direct cost is also involved in terms of travelling expenditure, stationery etc. for holding meetings. The cost should be taken as a limiting factor only if the decision taken by the committee could have been taken without forming a committee otherwise, costs always form part of any decision.
‘Time is money’. Time saved on discussing small matters through committees can be effectively utilised on strategic issues. In this regard, Parkinson puts forward the law of triviality, according to which, “the time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved”.
This is true when important decisions, involving huge amount of money, say, capital investment decisions, are immediately taken by committee members and trivial matters are extensively discussed resulting in waste of time.
Group decision-making, lengthy discussions and deliberations, synthesizing conflicting opinions takes lot more time than centralised decision-making. Time may be a constraint in taking urgent decisions but otherwise, time is investment in making sound and rational decisions which reflect intelligent thinking of committee members.
3. Hampers Individual Action:
Certain decisions like staffing can be effectively taken by a single individual. If left to committee, it may not result in effective decision-making.
4. Holding Responsibility:
Since decisions are collectively taken by members, it is difficult to hold individual responsibility in case wrong decisions are taken. Collective decisions are usually nobody’s responsibility. Everyone wants to take the credit for success but no body wants to own the failures. Members shift the blame for failures to others.
If the committee cannot arrive at decisions through consensus, members agree to it by mutual compromise. The decisions, therefore, do not always reflect the opinion of members. Sometimes, there can be disagreements, deadlocks, adjournments and indecisiveness.
Decisions reflect compromise and not the best decisions. Time, effort and money spent may not be worth the decision arrived at. Individual decision making could be better than collective decision-making in such situations.
6. Imposition of Will:
Normally, majority decision prevails on minority. Sometimes, few members representing minority may influence their decisions on the majority of committee members. Such decisions do not reflect general opinion on the matter put to discussion.
This happens when decisions have to be made through unanimity (opinion of all) rather than consensus (opinion of majority). The strong minority can put pressure on majority to agree to their viewpoint. The vice versa may also be true. Such decisions are compromises rather than the best decisions.