Path: Janda: Political Parties, Home Page > Part 1: Table of Contents > Chapter 10
Kenneth Janda, Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey (New York: The Free Press, 1980)
Chapter 10: Centralization of Power (pp. 108-117), this is p. 108
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(Text below as published in 1980 citation above)

"CENTRALIZATION OF POWER" as a concept in the analysis of political parties relates to Anderson's dimension of "control" as a concept in organizational theory (1968, pp. 392-396). More specifically, Anderson means the distribution of control instead of the volume or sources of control. In this sense, it is identical with Duverger's concepts of "centralization and decentralization," which Duverger says, "define the way in which power is distributed amongst the different levels of leadership" (1963, p. 52). There is some tendency within the parties literature to confuse "centralization" with "organization," or at least to neglect drawing clear distinctions between the two. Duverger cannot be blamed for this conceptual ambiguity, for he takes pains to distinguish between centralization and articulation (one of our measure of organization). Nevertheless, discussions of party politics frequently equate "strong" party organization with centralization of power.

Perhaps the confusion is due to the empirical relationship between a high degree of organization and centralization of power. Duverger himself asserts this relationship, and it appears explicitly in the writings of other authors (see Sorauf 1964, pp. 160-162). Notwithstanding any empirical relationship that may obtain between organization and centralization, the concepts should be separated in comparative analysis. In this way, one can determine precisely the extent of their relationship and also analyze deviant cases: parties that are high in organization but low in centralization or vice versa. The existence of federalism, for example, might explain why some highly organized parties are also decentralized, and low levels of institutionalization should account for some parties that are centralized but loosely organized.

Viewing centralization of power as the location and distribution of effective decision-making authority within the party, we define the national party organs as our reference point for "central" location. Thus a centralized party is one which features the concentration of effective decision-making authority in the national party organs, with a premium placed on a smaller number of individuals participating in the decision. We seek to tap the locus of power within a party with eight basic variables:

9.01 -- Nationalization of Structure
9.02 -- Selecting the National Leader
9.03 -- Selecting Parliamentary Candidates
9.04 -- Allocating Funds
9.05 -- Formulating Policy
9.06 -- Controlling Communications
9.07 --Administering Discipline
9.08 -- Leadership Concentration
Basic Variable 9.01: Nationalization of Structure

Structural arrangements of parties can attach more or less emphasis to national, regional, or local organs in intraparty politics. For example, if no national party organs exist independently of meetings of regional party leaders, there cannot be a basis for centralization of power or effective national direction. Occasionally, parties feature a highly differentiated set of party organs yet leave authority relationships among these organs unspecified, which is conducive to "nationalization" of structure but "decentralization" of power. Variable 8.01, "structural articulation," measures functional differentiation at the national level without regard to hierarchical distribution of power. Variable 9.01 seeks instead to measure hierarchical distribution of power without regard to functional differentiation.

The least nationalized structural arrangements and thus the most decentralized occur when local organizations, commonly at the municipal or county level, are effectively independent of higher organs. One government condition that may facilitate this type of local independence is federalism, although federalism is expected to have its greatest impact in separating state party organs from national organs.

Operational Definition. The preceding conceptual considerations are incorporated in this scale. Parties were assigned the lowest applicable code.

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