Committee Management: Guidelines from Social Science Research

by A. Filley

Fall 1970

Volume 13
Issue 1

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The committee is one of the most maligned, yet most frequently employed forms of organization structure. Yet despite the criticisms, committees are a fact of organization life. For example, a recent survey of 1,200 respondents revealed that 94 percent of firms with more than 10,000 employees and 64 percent with less than 250 employees reported having formal committees. And, a survey of organization practices in 620 Ohio manufacturing firms showed a similar positive relationship between committee use and plant size. These studies clearly indicate that committees are one of management's important organizational tools. According to the author, his thesis is that applying social science findings can increase committee effectiveness. Committees are set up to pursue economy and efficiency within the enterprise. They do not create direct salable value, nor do they supervise operative employees who create such value. Research findings regarding committee size, leadership, and membership have been reviewed. Evidence has been cited showing that the ideal size is five, when the five members possess the necessary skills to solve the problems facing the committee.

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