Hostname: page-component-84b7d79bbc-7nlkj Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-25T14:12:24.489Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The Relationship of Leadership Quality to the Political Presence of Civic Associations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 March 2011

Hahrie Han
Wellesley College. E-mail:
Kenneth T. Andrews
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. E-mail:
Marshall Ganz
Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. E-mail:
Matthew Baggetta
School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University. E-mail:
Chaeyoon Lim
University of Wisconsin at Madison. E-mail:


Member-based civic associations, or citizen groups, have two crucial roles in American democracy. They advocate for members' interests in the public arena, but also operate as Tocquevillian “schools of democracy” linking citizens to politics and equipping them with the skills of democratic citizenship. Yet scant research has examined the interrelationships of these two roles. Does the work that civic associations do in developing democratic participants enhance the work they do advocating for members' interests in the public arena? We bring together two previously disparate strands of research on civic associations by arguing that a key factor affecting the political presence of civic associations is leadership quality. We focus on the relationship of leadership quality to political presence, using data from a unique 2003 study of 226 local entities of the Sierra Club. We show that organizations with more skilled and committed leaders have higher levels of political presence. This contrasts with previous research that has focused primarily on community context and resources as explanatory factors. This study shows that political presence is related to the extent to which leaders develop their skills and demonstrate commitment to the organization.

Research Article
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Amenta, Edwin, Caren, Neal, Chiarello, Elizabeth, and Su, Yang. 2010. “The Political Consequences of Social Movements.” Annual Review of Sociology 36.Google Scholar
Amenta, Edwin, Caren, Neal, Olasky, Sheera Joy, and Stobaugh, James E.. 2009. “All the Movements Fit to Print: Who, What, When, Where, and Why SMO Families Appeared in the New York Times in the Twentieth Century.” American Sociological Review 74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Andrews, Kenneth T. 2001. “Social Movements and Policy Implementation: The Mississippi Civil Rights Movement and the War on Poverty, 1965–1971.” American Sociological Review 66.Google Scholar
Andrews, Kenneth, and Caren, Neal. 2010. “Making the News: Movement Organizations, Media Attention, and the Public Agenda.” American Sociological Review 75.Google Scholar
Andrews, Kenneth, Ganz, Marshall, Baggetta, Matthew, Han, Hahrie, and Lim, Chaeyoon. 2010. “Leadership, Membership, and Voice: Civic Associations That Work.” American Journal of Sociology 115 (4).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Andrews, Kenneth T., and Edwards, Bob. 2004. “Advocacy Organizations in the U.S. Political Process.” Annual Review of Sociology 30.Google Scholar
Barakso, Maryann. 2004. Governing Now: Grassroots Activism In The National Organization For Women. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Barkan, Steven E. 2004. “Explaining Public Support for the Environmental Movement: A Civic Voluntarism Model.” Social Science Quarterly 85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bauer, Raymond A., Pool, Ithiel de Sola, and Dexter, Lewis Anthony. 1963. American Business and Public Policy. Boston: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
Baumgartner, Frank, Berry, Jeffrey M., Hojnacki, Marie, Kimball, David C., and Leech, Beth L.. 2009. Lobbying and Policy Change: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Baumgartner, Frank, and Leech, Beth. 1998. Basic Interests. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Bernstein, Marver H. 1955. Regulating Business by Independent Commission. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Berry, Jeffrey M. 1999. The New Liberalism: The Rising Power of Citizen Groups. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
Boyte, Harry. 2004. Everyday Politics: Reconnecting Citizens and Public Life. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
Burns, James Macgregor. 1978. Leadership. New York City: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
Burstein, Paul, Einwohner, Rachel L., and Holllander, Jocelyn A.. 1995. “The Success of Political Movements: A Bargaining Perspective.” In The Politics of Protest, ed. Jenkins, Craig and Klandermans, Bert. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
Clemens, Elisabeth. 1997. The People's Lobby. Chicago: University of Chicago Pres.Google Scholar
Dalton, Russell. 1994. The Green Rainbow: Environmental Groups in Western Europe. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Eisinger, Peter. 2002. “Organizational Capacity and Organizational Effectiveness Among Street-Level Food Assistance Programs.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fiorito, Jack, Jarley, Paul, and Delaney, John Thomas. 1995. “National Union Effectiveness in Organizing: Measures and Influences.” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 48 (4).Google Scholar
Fishkin, James S. 1997. The Voice of the People. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Frank, David, Hironaka, Ann, and Schofer, Evan. 2000. “The Nation State and the Natural Environment over the Twentieth Century.” American Sociological Review 65.Google Scholar
Fung, Archon. 2003. “Associations and Democracy: Between Theories, Hopes, and Realities.” Annual Review of Sociology 29.Google Scholar
Fung, Archon. 2006. Empowered Participation: Reinventing Urban Democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Gamson, William A. 1990. The Strategy of Social Protest. Homewood, IL: Dorsey.Google Scholar
Ganz, Marshall. 2000. “Resources and Resourcefulness: Strategic Capacity in the Unionization of California Agriculture, 1959–1966.” American Journal of Sociology 105 (4).Google Scholar
Ganz, Marshall. 2009. Why David Sometimes Wins: Leadership, Strategy and the Organization in the California Farm Worker Movement. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Ganz, Marshall. 2010. “Social Movement Leadership.” In Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice, ed. Nohria, Nitin and Khurana, Rakesh. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
Gormley, William T. 1982. “Alternative Models of the Regulatory Process: Public Utility Regulation in the States.” Western Political Quarterly 35 (3).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grossman, Gene M., and Helpman, Elhanan. 2001. Special Interest Politics. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Hackman, Richard. 2002. Leading Teams: Setting the State for Great Performances. New York: Harvard Business School.Google Scholar
Hammer, T. E., and Wazeter, D. L.. 1993. “Dimensions of Local Union Effectiveness.” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hansen, John Mark. 1991. Gaining Access, Congress and the Farm Lobby, 1919–1981. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Heclo, Hugh. 1978. “Issue Networks and the Executive Establishment.” In The New American Political System, ed. King, Anthony. Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute.Google Scholar
Heinz, John P., Laumann, Edward O., Nelson, Robert L., and Salisbury, Robert H.. 1997. The Hollow Core: Private Interests in National Policy Making. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Herman, Robert D., and Renz, David O.. 1998. “Nonprofit Organizational Effectiveness: Contrasts Between Especially Effective and Less Effective Organizations.” Nonprofit Management and Leadership 9:2338.Google Scholar
Herman, Robert D., and Renz, David O.. 2000. “Board Practices of Especially Effective and Less Effective Local Nonprofit Organizations.” American Review of Public Administration 30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Herman, Robert D., and Renz, David O.. 2004. “Doing Things Right: Effectiveness in Local Nonprofit Organizations, A Panel Study.” Public Administration Review 64.Google Scholar
Jacobson, Gary C. 1999. “The Effect of the AFL-CIO's ‘Voter Education’ Campaigns on the 1996 House Elections.” Journal of Politics 61 (1).Google Scholar
Johnson, Erik W. 2008. “Social Movement Size, Organizational Diversity and the Making of Federal Law.” Social Forces 86.Google Scholar
Kalleberg, Arne L., and Moody, James. 1996. “Human Resource Management and Organizational Performance.” In Organizations in America, ed. Kalleberg, Arne L., Knoke, David, Marsden, P.V., and Spaeth, J.L. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
Kalt, Joseph P., and Zupan, Mark A.. 1984. “Capture and Ideology in the Economic Theory of Politics.” American Economic Review 74.Google Scholar
Kenny, Christopher, McBurnett, Michael, and Bordua, David. 2004. “The Impact of Political Interests in the 1994 and 1996 Congressional Elections: The Role of the National Rifle Association.” British Journal of Political Science 34 (2).Google Scholar
Key, Valdimer O. 1956. Politics, Parties, and Pressure Groups. New York: Thomas Crowell Co.Google Scholar
Knoke, David. 1981. “Commitment and Detachment in Voluntary Associations.” American Sociological Review 46 (2).Google Scholar
Knoke, David. 1990. Organizing for Collective Action: The Political Economies of Associations. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
Kollman, Kenneth. 1998. Outside Lobbying: Public Opinion and Interest Group Strategies. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Langbein, Laura. 1993. “PACs, Lobbies, and Political Conflict: The Case of Gun Control.” Public Choice 75.Google Scholar
Laumann, E.O., and Knoke, David. 1987. The Organizational State. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
Levine, John M., and Moreland, Richard L.. 1998. “Small Groups.” In The Handbook of Social Psychology, ed. Gilbert, Daniel, Fiske, S. T., and Lindzey, G.. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
Long, J. Scott, and Freese, Jeremy. 2006. Regression Models for Categorical Dependent Variables Using STATA. College Station, TX: Stata Press.Google Scholar
Lowi, Theodore. 1969. The End of Liberalism. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
March, James G., and Simon, Herbert Alexander. 1958. Organizations. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
McCarthy, John D., and Wolfson, M.. 1996. “Resource Mobilization by Local Social Movement Organizations: Agency, Strategy, and Organization in the Movement Against Drinking and Driving.” American Sociological Review 61.Google Scholar
McCarthy, John D., and Zald, Mayer N.. 1973. The Trend of Social Movements in America: Professionalization and Resource Mobilization. Morristown, NJ: General Learning Press.Google Scholar
McFarland, Andrew S. 1984. Common Cause: Lobbying in the Public Interest. Chatham, NJ: Chatham House Publishers.Google Scholar
Meyer, David S., and Tarrow, Sidney. 1998. The Social Movement Society: Contentious Politics for a New Century. Lanham, MD: Rowman Little Field.Google Scholar
Minkoff, Debra C. 1995. Organizing for Equality: The Evolution of Women's and Racial-Ethnic Organizations in America, 1955–1985. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
Moe, Terry. 1980. The Organization of Interests: Incentives and the Internal Dynamics of Political Interest Groups. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Nohria, Nitin, and Khurana, Rakesh, eds. 2010. Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Press.Google Scholar
Perrow, Charles. 1986. Complex Organizations: A Critical Essay. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
Pfeffer, Jeffrey, and Salancik, Gerald R.. 1978. The External Control of Organizations: A Resource Dependence Perspective. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
Polletta, Francesca. 2006. It Was Like a Fever: Storytelling in Protest and Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Putnam, Robert. 2000. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
Ramakrishnan, S. Karthick, and Bloemraad, Irene, eds. 2008. Civic Hopes and Political Realities. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
Rogers, Reuel. 2006. Afro-Caribbean Immigrants and the Politics of Incorporation. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rothenberg, Lawrence S. 1992. Linking Citizens to Government: Interest Group Politics at Common Cause. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Salisbury, Robert H. 1969. “Interest Representation: The Dominance of Institutions.” American Political Science Review 78.Google Scholar
Schlozman, Kay Lehman, and Tierney, John T.. 1986. Organized Interests and American Democracy. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
Schofer, Evan, and Fourcade-Gourinchas, Marion. 2001. “The Structural Contexts of Civic Engagement: Voluntary Association Membership in Comparative Perspective.” American Sociological Review 66.Google Scholar
Scott, W. Richard. 1998. Organizations: Rational, Natural, and Open Systems. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
Selznick, Philip. 1957. Leadership in Administration: A Sociological Interpretation. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Shaiko, Ronald. 1999. Voices and Echoes for the Environment: Public Interest Representation in the 1990s and Beyond. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
Shipan, Charles, and Lowry, William. 2001. “Environmental Policy and Party Divergence in Congress.” Political Research Quarterly 54 (2).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sirianni, Carmen, and Friedland, Lewis. 2001. Civic Innovation in America: Community Empowerment, Public Policy, and the Movement for Civic Renewal. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Skocpol, Theda. 1992. Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Skocpol, Theda. 2003. Diminished Democracy: From Membership to Management. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.Google Scholar
Skocpol, Theda, and Fiorina, Morris P., eds. 1999. Civic engagement in American democracy. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press and Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
Skocpol, Theda, Ganz, Marshall, and Munson, Ziad. 2000. “A Nation of Organizers: The Institutional Origins of Civic Voluntarism in the United States.” American Political Science Review 94 (3).Google Scholar
Smith, Richard. 1995. “Interest Group Influence in the U.S. Congress.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 20.Google Scholar
Soule, Sarah A., and King, Brayden G.. 2006. “The Stages of the Policy Process and the Equal Rights Amendment, 1972–1982.” American Journal of Sociology 111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Steiner, Ivan. 1972. Group Process and Productivity. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
Strolovitch, Dara. 2007. Affirmative Advocacy: Race, Class, and Gender in Interest Group Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Tarrow, Sidney. 2005. The New Transnational Activism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Thompson, J. 1959. “Strategies, Structures, and Processes of Organizational Decision.” In Comparative Studies in Administration, ed. Thompson, J.D.. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
Truman, David B. 1951. The Governmental Process: Political Interests and Public Opinion. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.Google Scholar
Verba, Sidney, Schlozman, Kay Lehman, and Brady, Henry. 1995. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in American Politics. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wageman, Ruth, Hackman, Richard, and Lehman, Erin. 2005. “Team Diagnostic Survey, Development of an Instrument.” Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 41 (4).Google Scholar
Walker, Jack L. Jr. 1991. Mobilizing Interest Groups in America: Patrons, Professions, and Social Movements. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
Weick, Karl E. 1969. The Social Psychology of Organizing. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.Google Scholar
Wilcox, Clyde. 2000. Onward Christian Soldiers? The Religious Right in American Politics. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
Wilson, James Q. 1973. Political Organizations. New York: Basic Books, Inc.Google Scholar
Wohlbrecht, Christina, and Hero, Rodney. 2005. The Politics of Democratic Inclusion. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
Wong, Janelle. 2006. Democracy's Promise: Immigrants and American Civic Institutions. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
Young, McGee. 2008. “From Conservation to Environment: The Sierra Club and the Organizational Politics of Change.” Studies in American Political Development 22 (2).Google Scholar
Zukin, Cliff, Keeter, Scott, Andolina, Molly, and Jenkins, Krista. 2006. A New Engagement? Political Participation, Civic Life, and the Changing American Citizen. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar