Alexander C. Tan, "Party Change and Party Membership
Decline: An Exploratory Analysis," Party Politics, 3
(July 1997), 363-377.
More than 80 years ago, Robert Michels, in his seminal book
Political Parties, argued that party membership size,
and particularly growth in party membership, has a definite
effect on organizational structure and the distribution of
power within the organization (Michels, 1962: 65). Evidence
from studies of other forms of complex organizations
consistently shows a statistically significant relationship
between size and other organizational attributes.
Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Levels of party membership by party
Figure 1: Organizational complexity, 1960-90.
Table 2: Regression of party size, professionalism and state
subsidy on organizational complexity (estimated
Figure 2: Centralization of power, 1960-90.
Table 3: Regression of party size, professionalism and state
subsidy on centralization of power (estimated coefficients),
Much remains to be done to increase our understanding of the
impact of declining party membership size on party
organizations. Since the analysis in this study is
necessarily only exploratory, future work should be directed
towards addressing the issues raised here (and collecting
data for such research) so as to accumulate more evidence
regarding the impact of declining party membership size.