A Theory of Political Decision Modes: Intraparty Decision Making in Switzerland

A Theory of Political Decision Modes: Intraparty Decision Making in Switzerland

A Theory of Political Decision Modes: Intraparty Decision Making in Switzerland

A Theory of Political Decision Modes: Intraparty Decision Making in Switzerland

Synopsis

The authors present a new theory of decision-making that provides modes that can be used to describe such widely diverse political entities as the British cabinet, a Quaker meeting, or a village meeting in the Sudan. By studying the Free Democratic party in Switzerland, the authors produced four decision modes: decision by majority vote, decision by amicable agreement, non-decision, and the mode they develop and describe in the book--decision by interpretation.

Originally published 1980.

Excerpt

This book is based on a study of decision making in the Free Democratic party in the canton of Bern, Switzerland, in 1969-70. Using the methods of participant observation, interview, and analysis of documents, we studied 111 meetings of the various party committees and identified 466 conflicts in those meetings. Analyzing these conflicts, we tried to discover with what modes they were decided. We distinguished the following four decision modes: majority decision (employed in 12 percent of the cases), decision by amicable agreement (21 percent), nondecision (30 percent), and decision by interpretation (37 percent). To explain this variation among these four decision modes, we assumed that political decision makers try to optimize the following four values: power, solidarity, rectitude, and time.

Although this project grew out of an interest in the literature on consociational theory, it is not just another version of the consociational theory. Our critique of the consociational literature (see chapter 1) led us to all attempt to develop a more general theory of political decision modes. Chapter 2 presents the framework within which we tried to develop this theory, a framework that can be applied to any face-to-face group. In chapter 3 we describe why we used decisions in intraparty conflicts as our data base. Chapter 4 shows how the typology of the four decision modes was developed from the data base. Chapters 5 through 8 present a discussion of the statistical methods that we used to explain the variation among the four decision modes, including a bivariate analysis (chapter 6), a discriminant analysis (chapter 7), and a simulation (chapter 8). Finally, in the last two chapters we offer some comments concerning strategies for further research and the normative implications of our research.

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