Expert networks are formed by a group of expert-professionals with different specialties to collaboratively resolve specific queries posted to the network. In such networks, when a query reaches an expert who does not have sufficient expertise, this query needs to be routed to other experts for further processing until it is completely solved; therefore, query answering efficiency is sensitive to the underlying query routing mechanism being used. Among all possible query routing mechanisms, decentralized search, operating purely on each expert's local information without any knowledge of network global structure, represents the most basic and scalable routing mechanism, which is applicable to any network scenarios even in dynamic networks. However, there is still a lack of fundamental understanding of the efficiency of decentralized search in expert networks. In this regard, we investigate decentralized search by quantifying its performance under a variety of network settings. Our key findings reveal the existence of network conditions, under which decentralized search can achieve significantly short query routing paths (i.e., between O(logn) and O(log2 n) hops, n: total number of experts in the network). Based on such theoretical foundation, we further study how the unique properties of decentralized search in expert networks are related to the anecdotal small-world phenomenon. In addition, we demonstrate that decentralized search is robust against estimation errors introduced by misinterpreting the required expertise levels. The developed performance bounds, confirmed by real datasets, are able to assist in predicting network performance and designing complex expert networks.