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Conceptual and Operational Definitions of the Basic Variables
Organizational Complexity
From Kenneth Janda, Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey
New York: The Free Press and Macmillan, 1980

PARTY ORGANIZATION is often cited as the major independent variable in explaining party "effectiveness" (see Katz and Eldersveld 1961; Cutright and Rossi 1958; Gatlin 1968; and Crotty 1968). From an alternative theoretical perspective, the degree of organization is seen to depend on other variables, such as the party's ideological commitment and the nature of the electoral system. Regardless of the theoretical approach, most analyses of political parties devote considerable attention to party organization.

"Organization" is an alias for several different concepts in party analysis, however. One common usage of "organization" pertains to the concentration of power within the party; a party with a "strong organization" is one that is centrally directed. This particular usage of the term is subsumed by the concept in the next chapter, plainly labeled "centralization of power." A second sense of organization relates to the stability of interaction patterns within the party; a "well-organized" party is one that functions smoothly in executing its activities, time after time. We do not use the term in this sense either, for it blends into our previous concept, "institutionalization."

Our usage of "organization" conforms instead to Anderson's "formalization" dimension in his review of organizational theory and the study of political parties. Anderson defines "formalization" as structured patterns of interaction that are prescribed either by formal rules of procedure or by traditions and unwritten rules (1968, pp. 398&emdash;399). The more formalized the organization, the more structured the behavior patterns&emdash;with ''structure" meaning ''complexity.'' This same concept is labeled "structural differentiation" by other writers and it seems identical to Huntington's "complexity-simplicity" dimension of political institutions (1965, p. 399). It appears that this conceptualization of party organization also equates with what Duverger usually means in his diverse references to the structural "articulation" of a party. Following Blau's general definition of an organization (1968, p. 298), we define "degree of organization" specifically as the complexity of regularized procedures for mobilizing and coordinating the efforts of party supporters in executing the party's strategy and tactics. Seven basic variables are advanced as operational measures of degree of organization. A number of these measures, outlined below, are inspired by Crotty's indices of party organization (1968, pp. 290-303). [Janda, 1980: 98]

Organizational Complexity is measured using a set of seven basic variables
8.01
Structural Articulation
8.02
Intensiveness of Organization
8.03
Extensiveness of Organization
8.04
Frequency of Local Meetings
8.05
Frequency of National Meetings
8.06
Maintaining Records
8.07
Pervasiveness of Organization


Basic Variable 8.01:
Structural Articulation [return to top]

Duverger attributes considerable explanatory power to the concept of "general articulation" in party organization, which he contends has "a profound influence upon its militants, upon its ideological unity, and the efficacy of its action, and even upon its methods and principles" (1963, p. 40). In an effort to separate his usage of "articulation" in an organizational sense from its usage in the sense of interest articulation, we refer to this variable as "structural articulation."

Duverger takes pains to distinguish his concept of articulation from that of centralization of power, but he is clearer in stating what the concept is not than in defining the concept positively. Although he introduces the concept with reference to "the arrangements for linking and relating the primary groups of the party" (1963, p. 40), he later stresses the importance of distinguishing between strong and weak articulation, on the one hand, and between vertical and horizontal links, on the other (1963, p. 47). He also associates the articulation concept with the degree of structural identity and the degree of clarity in prescribing how positions in the structure are attained.

We can fashion an explicit definition of structural articulation using the three basic ideas in Duverger's implicit discussion of the concept. These are (I) identifying the existence of party organs, (2) specifying the ways in which membership in these party organs is attained, and (3) establishing the functional relationships (linkages) that exist among these various organs. Thus, a party that ranks high in structural articulation demonstrates a well-defined set of party organs, features fixed membership with definite terms of service, and prescribes clear selection procedures. The relationships between the various organs are differentiated by function but not necessarily by lines of authority. Assessing relationships among party organs according to lines of authority is a matter for the "centralization of power" variable cluster. Here, we seek to measure a concept that is logically independent of the centralization of power.

Given our concern with political parties in national politics, we are mainly interested in the structural articulation of national party organs. A distinction between "governing" and "administrative" agencies may be helpful in identifying types of national party organs. Within the category of "governing" agencies, there are three general types of organs. (1) "Legislative assemblies" of large numbers of party members constitute the most authoritative organs within parties by virtue of their size and relatively representative composition. More commonly, these legislative assemblies are called party "congresses, " "conferences, " or "conventions. " To be counted as an "existing" national organ within each of our two time periods, a party's legislative assembly must meet at least once, which should handle the situation of a legislative assembly existing on paper but not in practice. (2) "National committees" of some sort are usually empowered to carry on party activities between legislative assemblies. These are commonly called "national committees" or "central committees," and frequently they are further subdivided into small executive committees for guiding day-to-day activities of the party. Such smaller committees, if clearly defined, would themselves be counted as additional national organs. (3) "Councils" of party leaders of a size between the legislative assemblies and the executive committees sometimes exist to fill the authority gap between the two. Such party councils have a variety of names.

Within the category of "administrative" agencies, here are many types of organs; we examine four. (I) The "parliamentary" organization is undoubtedly the most important of these, and some might with good reason classify this organization under the "governing" category. Where the parliamentary organization is classified matters little because of the heuristic nature of the categorization. It is more important to count a well-defined party organization within the legislature as another national party organ--and to count two national organs if separate organizations exist for each chamber in a bicameral legislature. (2) "Research" organizations are taken to include party groups formed to formulate policy, expound ideology, or otherwise engage in the substance of political issues. (3) "Nomination" committees refer to standing party agencies that pass on the suitability of party candidates. (4) "Finance" committees refer to standing party committees entrusted with the task of raising of dispensing funds. Other administrative or task-oriented committees might be identified, such as "patronage" committees, but enough have been mentioned to suggest differentiations among national party organs. In general, the greater the number of national organs that can be identified, the more structurally articulated the party.

A distinction needs to be made between "informal co-optation" of members into party organs and "prescribed selection" of members. Informal co-optation is the process of having members of the party organ themselves select additional members to fill out its membership. This process would also apply to the party leaders' unilateral selection of members to create a party organ. In contrast to the informal and unregulated process of co-optation is the process of prescribed selection, which sets forth the procedures involved in achieving party office, including eligibility and rules of election. In its classic form, prescribed selection involves other party organs, usually lower ones, electing or otherwise designating representatives to sit on the various national bodies. Prescribed selection also includes the case of members of a party organ formally subdividing into other party organs. In general, the process of prescribed selection is assumed to involve more structural articulation than informal co-optation.

Operational Definition. Parties were scored for structural articulation according to the most appropriate of the following categories, ranging from the lowest articulation to the highest.

0

Organization is so vague, diffuse, or changeable that no institutionalized organs can be identified at either the national or local levels.

1

The only organs that can be identified exist at the local level; organization at the national level is so vague or changeable that no institutionalized organs can be identified.

2

One national organ can be identified, but the selection procedures for membership on this organ either are indeterminate or involve a substantial amount of informal co-optation.

3

One national organ can be identified, and the selection process for membership on this body is characterized by prescribed selection .

4

Two or three major national organs can be identified; the selection procedures are either largely indeterminate or involve a substantial amount of informal co-optation, and the functional responsibilities of these organs are indeterminate or overlapping.

5

Two or three major national organs can be identified; the selection procedures are either largely indeterminate or involve a substantial amount of informal co-optation, but the functional responsibilities of these organs are relatively clearly specified.

6

Two or three major national organs can be identified; the selection procedures are characterized by prescribed selection, but the functional responsibilities of these organs are indeterminate or overlapping.

7

Two or three major national organs can be identified; the selection procedures are characterized by prescribed selection, and the functional responsibilities of these organs are relatively clearly specified.

8

Four or more major national organs can be identified; the selection procedures either are largely indeterminate or involve a substantial amount of informal co-optation, and the functional responsibilities of these organs are indeterminate or overlapping.

9

Four or more major national organs can be identified; the selection procedures either are largely indeterminate or involve a substantial amount of informal cooptation, but the function responsibilities of these organs are relatively clearly specified.

10

Four or more major national organs can be identified; the selection procedures are characterized by prescribed selection, but the functional responsibilities of these organs are indeterminate or overlapping.

11

Four or more major national organs can be identified; the selection procedures are characterized by prescribed selection, and the functional responsibilities of these organs are relatively clearly specified.


Basic Variable 8.02: Intensiveness of Organization
[return to top]

"Intensiveness of organization" derives from Duverger's emphasis on the "basic element"--or smallest organizational unit--in party structure as a variable having considerable consequences for party behavior. The party's strategy and selection of tactics, for example, are related to its structural basis. As Duverger points out, "the choice of the cell as the basis of organization entails a profound change in the very concept of a political party. Instead of a body intended for the winning of votes, ... the political party becomes an instrument of agitation" (1963, p. 35). The basis of party organization is also hypothesized to be related to party membership, discipline, and solidarity.

Most parties are organized on spatial rather than on functional lines, and a spatial or geographic scheme seems most generally suited for determining the most "intensive" level of party organization. We recognize that parties may not be organized as intensively in some areas of a country as in others, where their strength may be weaker. But, in this variable, we ignore variations in intensiveness of organization and seek instead to score parties according to the most intensive level of organization that the party has been able to achieve and maintain. Another variable, 8.03, assesses variations in intensiveness of organization.

The least intensive basis of party organization corresponds to what Duverger calls the "caucus"--assemblages of limited numbers of semi-coopted party notables drawn from relatively large geographic areas. We distinguish between national and regional caucuses. The next three categories constitute progressively diminishing areal bases of organization: the constituency, branch or ward, and precinct. Finally, the most intensive basis of party organization--in the sense that it involves the fewest number of party members--is a "cell" or "militia unit." Comprising small numbers of dedicated partisans, cells may be organized on either a geographical or, what is more likely, an occupational basis. This departure from the spatial classification scheme be handled within our conceptualization for it occurs only at the most intensive end of our continuum.

Operational Definition. A party is scored according to the smallest unit of organization it has been able to achieve and maintain.

0

Organization is so vague, diffuse, or changeable that no institutionalized organs can be identified.

1

National ccucus. There are no institutionalized party organs below the national level.

2

Regional caucus. There are no institutionalized party organs below the regional level, with region being interpreted to mean component states in a federal system or other major administrative subdivisions or prominent geographical divisions of the country

3

Constituency/municipal/ comune/county basis. There are no institutionalized party organs below the constituency level. In the absence of a clear empirical referent for these labels, this category is construed to define units smaller than regional and cont

4

Branch or ward basis. These are usually electoral subdivisions of the above category. In the absence of a clear empirical referent to these labels, this category is construed to define units that correspond to areas containing between S0,000

5

Precinct basis. This is usually a subdivision of the above category, and it involves 1,000

6

Cell basis. Usually not defined on the basis of voters that the territory embraces; usually involves less than 100


Basic Variable 8.03:
Extensiveness of Organization [return to top]

The degree of party organization includes the geographical coverage or extensiveness of organization as well as the intensiveness of organization, which is measured by the preceding variable, 8.02. A party that establishes and maintains local organizations throughout the country is considered more highly organized than one whose local organizations are concentrated in part of the country. More properly speaking, we are interested in the proportion of the population served by the party rather than the proportion of the territory it covers.

Categories of local organization presented in variable 8.02 are used to establish the extensiveness of party organization. From the least to the most intensive, there are four basic types of party organization: constituency, branch, precinct, and cell. We are interested in learning how widespread is the party's usage of its most intensive level or organization as identified in variable 8.02.

Operational Definition. A party is rated according to the highest code that applies from the following set of categories.

0

Either there are no identifiable party organs or the only organs that can be identified are national organs.

1

There are no "local organizations," but there are "regional organizations" in some major regions of the country.

2

There are no "local organizations," but there are "regional organizations" in all major regions of the country .

3

The most intensive level or organization for the party is limited to areas of the country less than one third of the population.

4

The most intensive level of organization for the party is limited to areas of the country with one-third to two-thirds of the population.

5

The most intensive level of organization for the party can be found scattered all over the country, but the strength of these organizations is variable and the coverage is far from complete.

6

The most intensive level of organization for the party can be found throughout the country; while the strength of these organizations may be variable, the coverage is rather thorough.


Basic Variable 8.04: Frequency of Local Meetings
[return to top]

The mere existence of local party units is an indicator of degree of organization. Another indicator is the frequency of meetings of the local party units. Meeting serve as a forum for the dissemination of information provide a focus for the collection of information, and aid in the formation and evaluation of party issues and goal orientations. The more frequent the meetings, the greater the potential for party organization. In addition to the frequency of meetings, the regularity of meetings must also be considered as contributory to organization.

Variable 8.02 sets forth four basic types of local party organization: constituency, branch, precinct, and cell-- listed in order of increasing intensiveness. In keeping with the practice established in variable 8.03, extensiveness of party organization, we conceptualize the frequency of local meetings in terms of the most intensive unit of party organization.

Operational Definition. Parties are coded according to what constitutes the modal category of frequency of meetings for the most intensive unit of party organization. The highest code applicable is used.

0

There either are no local party organs or the local units do not meet.

1

Basic party units do meet, but rarely and irregularly.

2

Basic units meet during campaigns only.

3

Basic units meet once or twice a year.

4

Basic units meet three to six times a year.

5

Basic units meet seven to eleven times a year.

6

Basic units meet once a month or more.


Basic Variable 8.05: Frequency of National Meetings
[return to top]

The same arguments made in behalf of the frequency of local meetings as an indicator of the degree of party organization apply to frequency of national meetings as an organizational variable. The more frequent the meetings at the national level, the greater the potential for party organization.

In conceptualizing this variable, we limit our concern to "governing" agencies of the "national committee" and "council" types. (See the distinction between governing and administrative agencies and the discussion of types of organs in each category as presented for variable 8.01.) This means that we count only the meetings of these national party organs. We do not count meetings of the "inner" executive committees, "politbureaus," or secretariats, which meet more often.

Operational Definition. A party is scored with the highest appropriate code along the following scale of frequency of meetings:

0

Either there are no national committees or councils or they meet but rarely and irregularly.

1

National committee or council meets cyclically less than once a year, perhaps at campaign times.

2

National committee or council meets regularly but only once a year.

3

National committee or council meets two to three times a year.

4

National committee or council meets four to five times a year.

5

National committee or council meets six to eleven times a year.

6

National committee or council meets monthly or about twelve times a year.

7

National committee or council meets more frequently than monthly.


Basic Variable 8.06: Maintaining Records
[return to top]

This variable contains three basic components that, taken together, constitute a broad conception of maintaining records, an activity thought to be indicative of structural differentiation. We take the most important indicator of recordkeeping to be maintaining lists of party members or party activists. The second component of recordkeeping is the preparation and publication of party propaganda--for example, speeches and policy statements--for either internal or general distribution. The third component is the maintenance of some type of party archive, repository, library, or research division as an institutionalized organizational resource.

In general, we limit our concern to maintenance of records as carried out by the national party organization, rather than local or regional organizations. But we do allow for national access to membership lists maintained by local or regional organizations if the national organization itself does not maintain such lists.

Operational Definition. In the absence of adequate data to make more specific coding distinctions, we were forced to be broadly judgmental in scoring parties on this variable. We employed an arbitrary progression of scores to weight our components according to their presumed importance in record maintenance. We gave parties the sum of the scores applicable from Table 9.6. The highest possible score that a party can obtain from this table is 2 for publishing party propaganda, plus 6 for maintaining party archives, plus 8 for maintaining membership lists--for a total of 16. The lowest possible score is 0.


Basic Variable 8.07: Pervasiveness of Organization [return to top]

"Pervasiveness of organization" refers to party penetration into mass social and economic groups representing politically significant sectors of the population. Typically organized into youth cadres, women's clubs, commercial associations, labor unions, agrarian leagues, and religious bodies, such groups articulate their aspirations while mobilizing support for the party. Duverger refers to such party-affiliated organizations as "ancillary" organizations, which he describes as "various bodies, created by the party and controlled by it constitutionally or in fact, which make possible wider or greater participation: wider participation, by grouping around the nucleus of members proper, satellite organizations made up of supporters; greater participation, through completing the political organization of the member by organization on the family, social, and cultural plains" (1963, pp. 106-107). Although Duverger sees these ancillary or "auxiliary" organizations as controlled by the party, they may, in the words of Clement Moore, lead an "equivocal existence, " operating as pressure groups with "a measure of freedom to influence policy" and yet subordinating their particular interests to the party interest, sapped of their vitality by close party supervision (1965, p. 159).

"Pervasiveness" in our conceptualization is measured by the number of major sectors of society represented in organizations ancillary to the party and by the proportion of individuals in each sector involved in the organizations. We do not here assess the situation in which an organization controls the party--a subject for the "autonomy" variable cluster--but we do evaluate the extent of party control of ancillary organizations and the extent of organizational activity in the party's behalf. We really assess the consequences of party control rather than the processes of control, for we score party control or activity as "high" if the organization is faithful to party policies and leaders or if it cooperates with the "regular" party organization in election campaigning, propaganda dissemination, and discipline.

Operational Definition. The limitations of our information force us to make rough judgments of the proportion of individuals in each sector involved in the ancillary organizations and to use a simple "low-medium-high" trichotomy for judging party control of these organizations or the activity of the organization on be. half of the party. We assign the highest applicable code from Table 9.8.