Political Parties and Organization Studies: The Party as a Critical Case of Organizing

Emil Husted*, Mona Moufahim, Martin Fredriksson

*Corresponding author for this work

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Organization scholars have extensively studied both the politics of organization and the organization of politics. Contributing to the latter, we argue for further and deeper consideration of political parties, since: (1) parties illuminate organizational dynamics of in- and exclusion; (2) internal struggles related to the constitution of identities, practices, and procedures are accentuated in parties; (3) the study of parties allow for the isolation of processes of normative and affective commitment; (4) parties prioritize and intensify normative control mechanisms; (5) party organizing currently represents an example of profound institutional change, as new (digital) formations challenge old bureaucratic models. Consequently, we argue that political parties should be seen as ‘critical cases’ of organizing, meaning that otherwise commonplace phenomena are intensified and exposed in parties. This allows researchers to use parties as magnifying glasses for zooming-in on organizational dynamics that may be suppressed or concealed by the seemingly non-political façade of many contemporary organizations. In conclusion, we argue that organization scholars are in a privileged position to investigate how political parties function today and how their democratic potential can be improved in the future. To this end, we call on Organization and Management Studies to engage actively with alternative parties in an attempt to explore and promote progressive change within the formal political system.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1327-1341
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: April 30, 2021.


  • Alternative organization
  • Commitment
  • Democracy
  • Inclusion and exclusion
  • Intellectual activism
  • Normative control
  • Organizational politics
  • Political parties

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