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A Model of the Congressional Committee Assignment Process: Constrained Maximization in an Institutional Setting

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Shepsle, Kenneth A.
Date: 1973
Agency:
Series:
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/5475
Sector: Social Organization
Region: North America
Subject(s): U.S. Congress
committees
voting
legislature
Abstract: "The substantive focus of this paper is an institutionalized process in the U.S. House of Representatives known as the committee assignment process. There is, however, a wider class of problems of which this is a special case, namely the classification and selection of personnel. After reviewing the temporal sequence of events that constitute the committee assignment process, the principal actors and their goals are identified. This permits the process to be characterized by self-interested actors engaging in goal-seeking behavior. Institutional constraints, a consequence of formal rules and scarcity, restrict the form that goal-seeking takes. With the specification of goals and constraints the entire process is formalized as a special kind of linear programming problem, called (naturally enough) the assignment problem. Given this formal structure a number of theoretical properties are established in an effort to understand the operating characteristics of this important institutional process."

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