The literature on party politics has generally conceived of party change as party adaptation. Building on the theories of institutional change based on critical juncture analysis, our work contributes to the literature in two ways. Theoretically, by unpacking the concept of party change in three dimensions: adaptation, innovation, and persistence. This multidimensionality has been unduly neglected in the literature, too exclusively focussed on party adaptation. Empirically, the article analyses whether the attitudes and opinions of middle-level elites reveal adaptation, innovation, or persistence in their belief system at the beginning of the third millennium. Drawing upon a unique data set of national party delegates of 15 Italian political parties, regression results suggest that high entry barriers in party organizations may hinder Schumpeterian innovation.