정책비교2020. 9. 18. 17:23

Party Organization-By: Angelo Panebianco

In: International Encyclopedia of Political Science

Edited by: Bertrand Badie, Dirk Berg-Schlosser & Leonardo Morlino

Subject:Political Science (general), General Politics & International Relations

2011, ISBN 9781412959636, Volume 6, 6

To study party organizations it is essential to draw all necessary analytical suggestions from organization theory and to adapt them to the special case of parties. Of course, this is not the only way of studying political parties. Many different points of view can be adopted. But this particular way provides the opportunity to explore the different ways in which the internal rules of the game, that is, the system of organizational incentives and opportunities, influence the actions of party members at the top levels, at the grassroots levels, and at the intermediate hierarchical levels.


An innovative definition of party organization is not needed. Political parties are formal organizations. Therefore, we can begin with a standard definition of formal organization as


a group of people formally constituted and endowed with an official mission, a hierarchy (more or less elaborated), as well as a structure of internal coordination, boundaries (more or less open), and some kind of task specialization (more or less developed).


A political party is a formal organization specialized in the presentation of candidates in local and/or national elections. In this perspective, the first and most important difference, according to Giovanni Sartori, is among parties operating in a competitive, namely, democratic environment and parties operating in a noncompetitive environment—that is, some modern authoritarian single-party system.


This entry investigates some aspects of the complex question of party organizations. It begins with some general suggestions about the historical evolution of political parties: their formation, their institutionalization, and path dependency effects. Next, it considers parties' organizational structures (different kinds of hierarchies, different kinds of power structure) and the linkages between a party's official goals and its organizational structure, the relations between parties' organizations and their external environment, and the causal mechanisms at work when political parties experiment with organizational changes. Finally, this entry briefly examines some typologies of parties, summarizing the most relevant features of recent developments in party organization.


Historical Evolution

In a historical-institutionalist perspective, understanding party organization requires an analytical reconstruction of each political party's origin and specific institutionalization. The features of parties' organizations depend on past history: how the organizations originated and how they consolidated. Path dependency rules explain why every organization, and political parties too, bears the mark of its origin and consolidation (institutionalization) even several decades later. Reconstructing the genetic model (Angelo Panebianco, 1988) of political parties means considering three elements:


1.

The organizational development: The birth of a party can be due to territorial penetration or territorial diffusion, or their combination. Penetration means that a “center” organizes, controls, and directs the development of a territorial “periphery.” Diffusion means that party organization is the product of the aggregation/federation of previous local groups and elites. In the first case, the party will probably become a strong, centralized organization controlled by a unified central oligarchy. In the second case, the party will be a decentralized organization with many diversified and competing groups: a stratarchy, as described by Samuel Eldersveld in 1964, in which every subgroup fights for power, making precarious and instable compromises with other subgroups.

2.

The presence or absence of an external sponsor of an institution (a church, trade unions, the Comintern) as actual founder of the party: If an external sponsor exists, the party is its “political weapon.” The external sponsor is the main center of loyalties and identifications for party followers and members as well as the source of legitimation for party leaders. Therefore, externally legitimated parties (confessional parties, labor parties, communist parties) and internally legitimated parties can be distinguished. This circumstance will influence all aspects of the future organizational developments.

3.

The presence or absence of a charismatic leader as founder of parties: Charismatic parties have very special features. The leader holds the full control of the party's dominant coalition. He or she is the de facto owner of the party.

The characteristics of the genetic model influence the manner of institutionalization, the process of structural consolidation of parties. Institutionalization is the process by which an organization incorporates its founder's values and aims, by which it becomes an institution—develops boundaries, an internal career system, a consolidated hierarchy, and a professionalized leadership. Two ideal types can be distinguished: strong institutionalization and weak institutionalization. Strong institutionalization means high autonomy from the environment and high interdependencies and coherence among its internal components. Weak institutionalization means low external autonomy and a low degree of internal interdependence. In the first case, the party will be a centralized, bureaucratic, organization led by a strong central oligarchy. It will hold the control of many external organizations (unions, interest groups, etc.), and it will adopt an aggressive, expansionist, policy toward the external environment.


In the second case, the party will be a decentralized organization, controlled by external groups (external organizations) and/or local notables, with a poorly developed internal administration system. It usually will be unable to develop aggressive policies toward the external environment.


Genetic model and institutionalization are related. A strong institution is mainly associated with territorial penetration and the absence of an external sponsor (with the notable exception of the communist parties in the 20th century). Weak institutionalization is mainly related to territorial diffusion and the existence of external sponsors. Finally, the presence of charismatic leaders as party founders is rarely associated with institutionalization (the routinization of charisma, in Max Weber's terms). Only a few charismatic parties become institutions (e.g., the Gaullist party in the French Fifth Republic). The majority of them disappear with the end of the human and political journey of the leader.


Physiognomy of Party Organizations

The official mission comprises the ideological goals, the organizational constitution, and the power structure, which are the three (related) aspects that define the physiognomy of party organizations.


The official mission of the party, its manifest ideological goals, influences both its organizational structure and its culture (and its relations with the environment too). Many formal and informal rules depend on the features of the official mission. But the official mission is also too vague an indicator of the characteristics of party organizations. Moreover, the original official mission is usually transformed during the process of institutionalization and after. Robert Michels's (1911) idea of “substitution of goals” may be exaggerated, given that a complete process of substitution of goals in a party is a rare occurrence. But usually, in the course of time, an “adaptation of goals” takes place: The goals are adjusted to the environmental circumstances, and as a consequence, they become vaguer.


Party members need to believe in those goals, and the capability of mobilization of followers by party leaders depends on their capacity to demonstrate themselves as zealous defenders of the ideological goals (as well as their capacity to distribute or promise material incentives and resources). But the role of the official mission will vary. For example, when parties are in power, there is less need of mobilizing members and followers and the official mission becomes less important. On the contrary, when parties are in the opposition, there is a greater urgency to mobilize people. In this case, the official mission, the ideological goals, will be emphatically affirmed.


The second aspect is the organizational constitution. The constitution defines the rules of the game: the distribution of formal authority in the party, the ways of coordination among the official party roles, the type of task specialization, and the organizational boundaries (who is a member and who is not). Sometimes, students of party organizations reduce the organizational analysis of parties to the description of their formal constitutions. But the constitution is only a fragment of a complex organizational whole.


The third aspect regards the power structure. In every party, there is a dominant coalition, a group of leaders who control the organization. The physiognomy of the dominant coalition is an essential defining feature of party organizations. In the case of the internally legitimated party, the dominant coalition comprises only party members. In the case of externally legitimated parties, it includes the leaders of the external sponsor organizations: For example, the top officials of the British trade unions were, for a long time, members of the Labour Party's dominant coalition.


Moreover, the dominant coalition leaders can hold positions of authority in the party (the general secretary, the members of the party national central committee, etc.), or they can be parliamentarians. Finally, the dominant coalition, in some cases, can include not only national leaders but also regional or local leaders (e.g., the secretaries of some important local federations).


Dominant coalitions can also be classified on the basis of their levels of cohesion/division and stability/instability. Both aspects are related to the power competition within the dominant coalition. If the subgroups of the dominant coalition are not organized, if they are only tendencies, as Richard Rose put it, the level of cohesion of the dominant coalition will be high. If the subgroups are strongly organized (factions), the level of cohesion will be low, and the dominant coalition will be divided.


The level of stability/instability refers to the capacity of members and subgroups of the dominant coalition to stipulate durable compromises among them. Therefore, cohesive-stable dominant coalitions (e.g., the communist parties), divided-stable dominant coalitions (the French socialist party of the time of Jean Jaurés and Léon Blum, the Christian Democratic Union [CDU] under Konrad Adenauer), and divided-instable dominant coalitions (the Italian Christian Democracy, 1953–1993) can be distinguished.


Furthermore, dominant coalitions can be oligarchies (cohesive and stable, without a single prominent leader), monocracies (a single leader, usually of the charismatic type, controlling the dominant coalition and, by consequence, the party), or poliarchies (divided and instable, usually a collection of factions).


Parties and their External Environment

Like all other formal organizations, political parties interact; that is, they exchange vital resources with their external environment. The portions of the environment that are relevant for the party are its “task environment” or domain. First of all, there is a special portion of a party's environment that the party identifies as its “hunting ground,” its privileged classe gardée, or reserved territory; it is that portion comprising the electors of the party and from which the party draws the majority of its members. The party's official mission identifies the domain. Middle-class parties, manual workers' parties, ethno-regional parties, and confessional parties are all denominations that make reference to those portions of the social territory that the official mission identifies as the privileged classe gardée of the organization. Changes and transformations of the social territory usually cause changes and transformations in the party. Alternatively, the leaders can deliberately manipulate and change the original official mission of the party to enlarge or change its domain.


The traditional sociology of political parties is usually concentrated on these aspects of the relations between parties and the environment. But the identification of the classe gardée does not entirely cover the topic. We should examine the question of the relations among parties and environments from a different perspective. In the case of parties operating in democratic, competitive regimes, it can be useful to divide the party environment into three main (interconnected) arenas: the electoral, the parliamentary, and the interorganizational (the set of relations between the party and interest groups, unions, etc.).


Different levels of complexity and different levels of stability/turbulence can be identified in each arena. On complexity, organization theory assumes that there are isomorphic pressures: The more complex the environment, the more complex the organization becomes. An increase in the complexity of the environment forces the organization to increase its internal specialization. In a complex arena (electoral, parliamentary, or interorganizational), the party is obliged to specialize its internal offices in order to face the different external pressures and threats.


As regards stability/turbulence, organization theory predicts (ceteris paribus) more decentralization in a stable environment and more centralization in a turbulent environment. In a stable, predictable environment, there are few external dangers: Parties adapt to the environment, the different subsections of the party have stable exchanges with different portions of the environment, and concentration of power is not a necessity. In a turbulent environment, unpredictability is very high, and there are many external dangers: The organization must concentrate power at the top of the hierarchy to survive.


During the period from 1920 to 1960, the electoral arenas of Western Europe were highly stable. In consequence, party organizations too were stable or changed very slowly. By the late 1960s, the picture had changed: The European electoral arenas became more volatile and turbulent, and party organizations underwent important changes. Above all, concentration of power at the top level of the hierarchy became a necessity for all parties. For instance, the so-called personalization of party politics, the new relations between party leaders and the public, was not only brought about by the new role of the mass media but was also an aspect of power concentration processes in turbulent electoral environments. The theory predicts decadence (in the case of parties, severe, permanent, electoral losses) if the organization fails to adapt itself to the new environmental conditions.


Organizational Changes

Every organization can experience two different kinds of changes: (1) continuous, small, and incremental changes that do not modify the essential features of the organization (official mission, organizational constitution, power structure) and (2) rare and extraordinarily big transformations that happen suddenly, deeply modifying those features. The punctuated equilibrium model is a stylized representation of the process.


Major transformations of political parties are rare but do happen. The process can be broken down into three phases. The first phase is the rise of an organizational crisis. The crisis is usually the effect of environmental pressures. In the case of parties, a severe electoral defeat is the most frequent external challenge that can give rise to the organizational crisis. The second phase is a change in the composition of the dominant coalition: Old leaders are discredited and removed, and new leaders enter the coalition. There is a more or less brisk “circulation of elites.” The third phase sees a simultaneous change in the organizational constitution and the official mission. The (partially) changed dominant coalition must consolidate itself. Usually, it will introduce change in the physiognomy of the organizational structure and (partially) modify the official mission. A succession of ends (partial substitution of the old goals with new ones) is a consequence of the change in the composition of the dominant coalition. The final effect of the process will be a more or less deep transformation of the relations between the party and its task environments.


Two (related) regularities can be identified: (1) the stronger the environmental pressure, that is, the more dangerous the external threat, the more severe is the organizational crisis, and (2) the more severe the organizational crisis the deeper is the change in the composition of the dominant coalition and the transformations of both the organizational structure and the official mission as well. This ideal-typical, highly stylized representation of parties' changes may be assumed as a quite useful analytical tool for empirically observing the transformations that parties sometimes experiment with.


Typologies

In his classic Political Parties (1951), Maurice Duverger proposed a famous classification of party organizations. In the Western historical experience, he identified four fundamental types: (1) the cadre party, (2) the mass party, (3) the cell party, and (4) the militia party. The first two types were the most important and diffuse. But Duverger's analysis was not original. It followed the classical works of Moisey Ostrogorski, Robert Michels, Max Weber, and James Bryce.


The cadre party is the traditional bourgeois party: a loose electoral organization, without party discipline, financed by notables and controlled by the parliamentary elite. The mass party is a very strong organization. It is a membership party. Its organizational “inventions” are the territorial section, the membership card, the party bureaucracy, and the periodical congresses in which the leaders are officially selected and the political strategy is approved. An “inner circle” (the general secretary, the party headquarters) controls the mass party. Usually, the parliamentarians are dependent on the inner circle. The mass party is the organization that is able to proselytize among the popular classes of the society: manual workers, peasants, and artisans.


Duverger's prophecy is well-known: The mass party would become the dominant type of party in the mature Western democracies. Like Michels 40 years earlier, Duverger was influenced by the history of the European socialist parties. Sixteen years later, Otto Kirchheimer (1966) reversed the perspective. A new form of party was emerging: the catchall party. The catchall party was different from the mass party of the past. Its communicative style was pragmatic, not ideological, and its linkages with the traditional classe gardée (the manual workers, the religious voters) were declining. The transformation of the mass party into a catchall party was an effect of the social and political transformations of European societies: the economic development, the rise of mass education levels, the new role of the mass media, and so on.


Party organizations were changed too. New types of professional figures slowly took over the old mass party bureaucracy: mass media experts and marketing and fund-raising specialists, among others. The traditional role of the membership, so important in the old mass party, was declining. From an organizational viewpoint, the passage from the mass party to the catchall party has been synthesized as the transformation of the bureaucratic party into the professional electoral party (Panebianco, 1988).


After Duverger and Kirchheimer, there have been many attempts to identify the recent transformations of Western parties. The cartel party model (Richard Katz & Peter Mair, 1995) is one of these. In this perspective, the most important change is with regard to the “statization” of parties, their new symbiotic relationship with state agencies and its impact on the traditional party organization. Some empirical analyses confirm that cartelization is one of the possible transformations of Western political parties (Klaus Detterbeck, 2005).


In another interpretation, the Western political parties are becoming franchise systems: A central organization provides ideological arguments and material services to a lot of autonomous subparty organizations. The franchise model implies the end of the traditional internal party hierarchy. Stratarchies are everywhere replacing the traditional oligarchies (R. Kenneth Carty, 2004).


All these attempts to analyze contemporary trends and transformations are useful, but prudence is needed. It is inaccurate to imagine (like Duverger or Kirchheimer) that some type of party organization is becoming the dominant type and that all the existing parties will imitate that type. On the contrary, a plurality of very different party organizations always coexists in democracies. As we have seen, parties are influenced by their original missions, by the personality and roles of their founding leaders, and by the crucial organizational decisions that accompanied their birth and institutionalization. After the institutionalization, path dependency processes reduce both the leaders' menu of choices and the probability of radical changes in the organization. Moreover, political parties are born in different historical moments, and all organizations are strongly influenced by the cultural models prevailing in those moments.


A second reason for prudence has to do with new political parties' organizations in the new democracies. The picture is very differentiated, and a lot of empirical and comparative work is needed to understand the features and the evolutions of these new political organizations.


In the case of Europe, there is a third prudential consideration. The European integration process exerts pressures on national party organizations, but the effect is still largely unknown.


The organizational analysis of political parties is a “structural” kind of analysis. The assumption is that the organizational structure influences the behavior of actors (leaders, members, and followers). This assumption is common to the traditional organization theory and to the most recent neoinstitutional theory. In any case, despite its correctness, this perspective tells only a part of the story. One must also take into consideration the freedom of action of the organizational actors.


An organization is a system of roles equipped with incentive and punishment mechanisms that influence actors' behavior. It is also an arena in which actors compete for power, and the rules of competition depend on the arena characteristics. But “to influence” is not “to determine”: In real life, different actors can react differently to the same incentives. The organizational analysis is a useful starting point, but “structures” (including organizational structures) do not substitute for social actions. A theory of action is the indispensable complement of any analysis of a party's organization.


Angelo PanebiancoUniversity of Bologna Bologna, Italy

See also

One-Party Dominance

Organization Theory

Parties

Party Finance

Party Identification

Party Linkage

Party Manifesto

Party System Fragmentation

Party Systems

Path Dependence

Further Readings

Carty, R. (2004). Parties as franchise systems: The stratarchical organizational imperative. Party Politics, 10, 5–24.

Detterbeck, K. (2005). Cartel parties in Western Europe?Party Politics, 11, 173–191.

Duverger, M. (1951). Les partis politiques [The political parties]. Paris: Colin.

Katz, R. S.Mair, P. (1995). Changing models of party organization and party democracy: The emergence of the cartel party. Party Politics, 1(1), 5–28.

Kirchheimer, O. (1966). The transformations of the Western European party systems. In J.LaPalombara & M.Weiner (Eds.), Political parties and political development. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Lipset, S., & Rokkan, S. (Eds.). (1967). Party systems and voter alignments: Cross national perspectives. New York: Free Press.

Michels, R. (1911). Zur Soziologie des Parteiwesens in der modernen Demokratie [On the sociology of political parties in modern democracy]. Leipzig, Germany: Klinkhardt.

Panebianco, A. (1988). Political parties. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Rose, R. (1974). The problem of party government. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.

Sartori, G. (1976). Parties and party systems. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

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