7 advantages and disadvantages of committees for administration and management

Now-a-days committees are widely used in all areas of administration and management on account of the following reasons:

Advantages

1. Pooling of knowledge and experience:

The personal skills and Hence of several persons are pooled together. Group deliberations and combined judgment of all the members can be brought to bear on important problems. There can be a more realistic and objective appraisal of the problem from all angles. This helps to improve the quality of decisions. Business problems are multifaceted and require breadth of decision. Subjective and unbalanced decisions can be minimized. "When several people study and deliberate on each critical problem, there is more assurance that every facet will be thoroughly explored and weighed in terms of the interests of the company as a whole."1 A group of people can bring to bear a wider range of experience and a more thorough prob­ing of facts than a single person.

2. Improved communication:

Committees serve as important means of communication between the members of an organisation. Informa­tion and ideas can be easily transmitted both upward and downward. Unwritten policies and objectives can be explained effectively through deliberations of a committee. Creative ideas emerge from interactions among the members. Doubts and ambiguity can be removed on the spot.

3. Facility of coordination:

Participation in committee meetings pro­motes mutual understanding, team-work and cooperation among employees. Committees serve as an important technique of coordination by bringing together managers from different departments. Members of a committee come to appreciate each other's point of view and they can pursue a common course of action. A committee is a useful means of integrating and unifying various points of view.

4. Better motivation:

Committees help to improve the motivation and morale of employees by providing them an opportunity to express them­ selves. Participation in the decision making process not only improves quality of decisions, it creates a sense of belonging. Employees are keen on the execution of decisions in the making of which they have taken an active part.

5. Executive development:

A committee is an useful device for educat­ing and training subordinate managers. Participation in committee meetings provides opportunity for learning through experience. A manager learns to take an integrative view of organizational problems by serving on various committees. Executive development ensures con­tinuity of management in the organisation.

6. Democratic management:

As a plural executive, a committee helps to avoid the risk of concentration of too much authority in the individual and the danger of abuse of power. There is no fear of delegating too much authority to one individual. The tyranny of a powerful head can be reduced. Group authority makes for diffusion of power and demo­cratic leadership.

7. Representation of interests:

Various interest groups can be given representation on a committee. Such representation may be necessary to secure the commitment and cooperation of people. Members can be enlightened on policy matters and ideas beyond the capacity of one individual can be generated.

8. Consolidation of authority:

The manager of every department or section may have a portion of the total authority required to take a deci­sion. Such authority is known as splintered authority. In such a case, a committee of different managers may be constituted to consolidate the authority. In this way the decision can be taken without reference to the higher level. However, frequent need for consolidation of splintered authority is the sign of a poor organisation structure.

9. Avoidance of action:

Sometimes, committees are constituted to postpone or avoid action. In order to cool off agitation and temper on the part of employees, the matter may be referred to a committee. Delaying of action through a committee is a strategy for overcoming resistance, pressure or opposition from affected people.

Disadvantages:

The committee form of organisation suffers from the following weaknesses:

1. Indecisiveness:

In general, it takes longer to get decision or action from a committee than from an individual. Members of a committee tend to indulge in lengthy, discussions. Every member has the right to speak and be heard. Matters are unnecessarily dragged. Opinion is divided and decisions get delayed. Group decision processes are not appropriate where prompt action is required. Due to conflicting view­points, a committee fails to reach a decision in time.

2. High costs:

A lot of expenditure and time is incurred in convening meetings and giving travelling or other allowance to members. There­fore, committees are an expensive form of administration. As such a committee should be appointed only when the gains of committee work justify the s costs. Committee work is very time-consuming.

3. Compromised decisions:

Committee decisions are often mediocre compromises between conflicting viewpoints. The ultimate decisions may reflect the opinion of none so that there is little enthusiasm for them. Individual thinking is expected to conform to the average or group thinking. Such leveling effect or log-rolling reduces the quality of deci­sion. The compromise is often arrived at the least common denominator. Therefore, committee decisions are not necessarily the best decisions but merely acceptable ones.

4. Diffused responsibility:

No member can be individually held responsible for a wrong decision taken by a committee. As no one feels accountable for results, members shirk their responsibilities. The committee becomes an organized means of passing the buck. According to committees do not necessarily increase the democratic process administration.

5. Domination by few:

A few aggressive or vocal members often dominate committee's deliberations. A minority group exercises an unwarranted tyranny ignoring the interest of other members. Members frequently seek to protect their narrow sectional interests. There is a tendency to cloud the real issues and bring in extraneous matters for discus­sion often a committee becomes a battle-ground for warring camps to settle personal scores.

6 Perpetuation:

Committees have a tendency to perpetuate them­ selves even after the purpose is served. There exist too many committees even for routine problems. Sometimes committees are appointed to just avoid actions. Such committees serve no useful purpose and the aggrie­ved people remain aggrieved. It is often difficult to dissolve a committee even when it has outlived its utility.

7. Lack of secrecy:

It is difficult to maintain secrecy regarding the decisions and actions taken by a committee. A large number of persons participate in committee meetings.

Due to its weaknesses and misuse, a committee has been described as "a group of unfits engaged by the unwilling to do the unnecessary." Some people remark that a committee is a group of people who indi­vidually can do nothing but who can meet together and decide that noth­ing can be done. Such remark reflects wide-spread frustration and dis­illusionment with committees.