Looking for Ariadne’s thread: A systematic review on party-group relations in the last 20 years

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All too often, research on the relationship between political parties and interest groups has followed different paths. In a research field dominated by multiple and disconnected approaches, an overview of where we stand and what we know is pertinent. This study reviews and assesses the empirical evidence brought forward through a systematic analysis of 182 studies on the topic. We address three key questions. What are the analytical and theoretical perspectives employed in this scholarship? What is the focus of the research? What are the research strategies used to assess party-group relations? We answer these questions by analyzing an original, built-for-purpose dataset providing information on the analytical frameworks, research designs, and focus employed in recent studies. The analysis shows that this field of research has grown significantly over the last decade and that multiple research strategies have been employed, with a predominance of qualitative and case study approaches. The findings also suggest that different conceptualizations of party-group relations have been adopted, while the American literature tends to adopt a distinct theoretical perspective from European studies. Finally, the analytical focus has privileged economic organizations, but it has moved progressively away from the study of organizational linkages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021


  • Interest groups
  • lIinkage
  • Political parties
  • Political representation
  • Systematic review


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