My thesis studies the inclusion of interested parties in ad hoc committees designed to help a decision-making body formulate policy. Common variations of such committees are known as commissions of inquiry, Royal Commissions, advisory committees, and blue ribbon panels. Despite their widespread use, they remain understudied, at least quantitatively. To my knowledge, no-one has constructed a formal model of such committees before.

I address two questions: First, under what combination of features – institutional rules, committee composition, the preferences of the decision-making body and interest groups, and the nature of the policy issue – does the inclusion of interested parties lead to informed consensus? Second, under what circumstances do interested parties provide more information than would be obtained through external or expert consultations?

I address these questions using a formal model. I then test the model empirically using a hand-collected full population sample of nearly 3000 Swedish commissions of inquiry from 1990-2018, and a new maximum likelihood method function I have developed to be used when evaluating individual group member properties at the aggregate level. The data set includes information on nearly 38,000 individual commission members.

The dissertation relates to two broader topics. The first is the long-standing debate about the merits of deliberative democracy and participatory politics. The second is the current crisis in democratic legitimacy which is occurring even in advanced democracies. I hope that, in some small way, my thesis can contribute to finding realistic institutional remedies for this crisis.

I also have several working papers and publications, which can be found here:

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Kira Pronin CV Jan 2019