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TABLE 10.5a: Mid 1950s: BV9.05 Formulating Policy

TABLE 10.5b: Early 1960s: BV9.05 Formulating Policy

power in "formulating policy" for 80 percent or more of our parties with relatively high confidence (see Tables 10.5a and 10.5b). In nearly half these parties, policy formulation is centralized in the national committee. In another quarter, this function is entrusted to the party leader himself or a small group of leaders. Of the remaining quarter of the parties, almost all reserve the major role of policy formulation for a national congress or convention. Very few parties occupy the more decentralized positions on the scale, suggesting that there are definite empirical limitations to decentralization in policy formulation regardless of the conceptual possibilities.

Basic Variable 9.06: Controlling Communications*

Control of communications or information flow is often cited as a key factor, if not the key factor, in controlling an organization. Undoubtedly, informal conversation is one of the main forms of communication in virtually all organizations, and conversation among party members is difficult to control directly. By skillful use of more formal types of communication, however, a party can often structure the content of conversation indirectly. This leads us to consider the party's access to and control of mass communications media as the major indicator of controlling communications and thereby centralizing power within the organization.

Literature distribution (newspapers, magazines, party documents) and electronic broadcasts (radio, television) constitute the two major types of mass communication, with the latter being somewhat more "mass" than the former. Despite the increasing use of electronic broadcasts as a mass communications technique, especially in countries with low literacy rates, the newspaper maintains its position as the main vehicle for party communication. Therefore in considering the control of party communications we look first and foremost at the party press.

From the standpoint of centralization of power, our concern with controlling communications is the level of the party that controls the content and distribution of party newspapers (or other form of communication, if relevant). Apart from the most decentralized situation which obtains when the party has no mass communications media of any kind, we regard the control of party press by local organizations (defined as constituency/ municipal/county/commune or lower) as a main condition for decentralization of power. Power is centralized, however, if the national press is considered to be "influential" either in the sense of being widely read across the country by party members and nonmembers alike or intensively and closely read only by party members.

Operational Definition. These criteria of (1) existence of facilities for mass communication, (2) the locus of control within the party over publication of information, and (3) the "influence" of the communication are incorporated into the following scale. The higher the score, the greater the degree of centralization.


The party controls no important communications media at any level.


Local organizations control the media without censorship from the national organization; the media are regarded as "influential."


Regional organizations control the media without censorship from the national organization; the media are regarded as "influential."


Either local or regional organizations control the media without national censorship, but the media are not regarded as influential.

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