Self-maintenance vs. goal attainment: Drivers of mortality anxiety in organized civil society

Nicole Bolleyer*, Patricia Correa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When do membership-based civil society organizations such as interest groups, political parties or service-oriented organizations consider their existence under threat? Distinguishing pressures of organizational self-maintenance from functional pressures of goal attainment, which all voluntary membership organizations - irrespective of their political or societal functions - need to reconcile, we propose a framework theorizing distinct categories of drivers of mortality anxiety in organized civil society. To test our hypotheses, we apply ordered logistic regression analysis to new data covering regionally and nationally active interest groups, service-oriented organizations and parties in Germany, Norway, Switzerland and the UK. We find that factors enhancing intraorganizational resilience thereby facilitating self-maintenance as well as exposure to different representation challenges complicating goal attainment have significant effects on mortality anxiety experienced by interest groups, political parties and service-oriented organizations alike - the former reducing, the latter enhancing it. Stressing the importance of a stable, durable organizational infrastructure with loyal and involved members to operate in increasingly volatile and diverse environments, our findings highlight the on-going importance of 'traditional' (sometimes considered 'outdated') organization-building.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-288
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Political Science Review
Issue number3
Early online date8 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

The final publication is available via Cambridge Journals Online at

Funding Information:
This research has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–13)/European Research Council grant agreement no. 335890 STATORG.


  • Civil society
  • European Democracies
  • Membership organizations
  • Mortality anxiety
  • Organizational viability


Dive into the research topics of 'Self-maintenance vs. goal attainment: Drivers of mortality anxiety in organized civil society'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this