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Rune Karlsen, "Fear of the Political Consultant: Campaign Professionals and New Technology in Norwegian Electoral Politics," Party Politics, 16 (March 2010), 193-214. [Available at]

First paragraph:
(Second paragraph) In this article I explore to what extent and in what sense ICTs increase the need for campaign professionals through a study of the involvement of professionals in Norwegian electoral politics. The approach is to study the involvement of campaign professionals in general and concerning ICTs in particular. In addition I explore the party leadership's assessment of campaign professionals. In doing so I first offer a typology of the campaign professional based on the connection to the parties and the type of service provided. Hence, the typology distinguishes between in-house and external campaign professionals, as well as between whether the campaign professionals carry out technical assistance or strategy assistance. The typology helps to distinguish the type of campaign professional that features in a country, as well as the type of campaign professional the new technology creates a demand for. My data is a survey of political parties concerning the role of campaign professionals, and interviews with party campaign strategists conducted in connection with the parliamentary elections of 2001 and 2005.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Typology of campaign professionals: the connection to the parties and the type of service provided
Table 2. State funding 2001 (NOK), campaign budget 2001 (NOK), and size of the party staff: total staff, staff at parliament, and staff at the central party office in 2007
Table 3. The involvement of in-house and external campaign professionals concerning technical assistance 2005 (X = used)
Table 4. The involvement of in-house and external campaign professionals concerning strategy assistance 2005 (X = used)
Table 5. Countries visited by Norwegian parties in order to study campaigning
Figure 1. The Christian Democratic Party's campaign message 2001: 'Vote for a Prime Minister - vote KrF'

Last Paragraph:
These findings concerning the effect of ICTs on the nature of professionals' involvement in campaigning correspond well with a hybridization model of campaigning. In this respect the typology formulated initially has proved fruitful. In Norwegian electoral politics in-house professionals are involved concerning both technical and strategy assistance, and external campaign professionals are involved concerning technical assistance. The external campaign professional is more of a generalist specializing in his or her field, not in political communication. The in-house campaign professional, on the other hand, is more of a political specialist, brought into the organization and trusted to play a role in developing party and campaign strategy. Norwegian parties approach the increasing prominence of ICTs in campaigning based on these existing practices: expertise is integrated in the party organization while at the same time external professionals are used for technical assistance. Hence, the involvement of campaign professionals in Norway differs from the US case where the different types of external campaign professionals dominate electoral politics (Dulio, 2004). However, a pattern similar to the Norwegian is likely to be found in other systems with strong party organizations and where campaigns are party-centered. These features are the opposite of the principal factors behind the rise of the political consultant in America - where weak party organizations and candidatecentered campaigns prevail (Dulio, 2004; Katz and Kolodny, 1991). Hence, based on the Norwegian case, Agranof's (1972) observation seems still valid today: west European parties are better equipped to internalize experts. This seems also the case regarding ICTs and new media technology. After all, statements like 'parties cannot provide the services needed' do not really make sense in the context of a party-centered campaign.

Last updated March 2010