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IN WHAT WAYS MIGHT THE POLICE

ORGANISATIONAL

SERVICE BENEFIT FROM CHANGES TO ITS ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS FOR

CULTURES? WHAT

THE WAY THE POLICE SERVICES ARE LED AND MANAGED?

The term organisational culture has been the subject of numerous studies and debate as this phenomenon has been used to account for organisational performance based on shared assumptions or values. The intent of this essay is to identify some aspects of police organisational cultures, changes to which may be of benefit to the service and the implications from a leadership and management perspective. In order to address the issues, the term organisational culture will be defined and then the association between culture and its effects on the organisation, albeit positive or negative, will be examined. Moreover, culture change will be explored together with the role of the management structure and processes in facilitating positive transformation, where necessary, within the organisation as is based on police culture.

Defining Organisational Culture as it relates to the police service Police culture has become a 1convenient label for a range of negative values, attitudes and practise norms among police officers (Chan 1996:110). The term culture has been applied to refer to underpinning traits that are commonly displayed by individuals within a group such as loyalty, respect and honour (Brown, 1981). In other instances it is used to refer to demonstrated collective behaviours such as clannishness, public mistrust, suspiciousness, corruption or solidarity (Dempsey and Frost, 2005; Newburn and Neyroud, 2008) as is often insinuated when discussing police culture. John Crank (1998) used the metaphor, Culturenot as the eyes that
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Waddington, P (1999:293) condemns the use of the convenient description as he questions the use of the term due to its condemnatory potential.

see (1998:5) but alluded to a more deep seated application of the term to capture what he described as being dense in values, rituals, habits, full of historical prescriptions and common sense that guide action(1998:5).

Notwithstanding the diverse application and understanding of the term culture, there are common threads that are present in most studies. Culture, is not just a superficial demonstration of behaviour or artefacts (Schein, 2004), it is a pattern of values that are accepted within a group, shared basic assumptions (2004:17) that have been learned and are taught that are intended to ensure the performance and survivability of the group (Denison: 1984). Paoline III (2001) advances the view that these socially transmitted attitudes and values (2001:5) are used not only to guide actions from a correctional or compliance perspective (Murphy and McKenna, 2007) but also to enable individuals to cope with the various challenges that are commonly encountered due to the occupational environment.

These values and assumptions manifest themselves through a multifaceted process that is based upon what Sonja Sackmann (1992) described as cultural knowledge. Culture as knowledge suggests that behaviours are guided or reinforced by an understanding of what is done (Dictionary Knowledge), how are things done (Directory Knowledge), whether they should be done or not (Recipe Knowledge) and why things and events happen (Axiomatic Knowledge) (Sackmann 1992:142). This dynamic process within police services is not isolated from societal influences. The police organisation, in its bid to satisfy its broad mandate of crime control and public order (Murphy and McKenna, 2007), must be seen to be able to actively engage stakeholders i.e. communities, law enforcement partners and governing authorities. The organisations ability to achieve this mandate and remain relevant is therefore linked to the 2

presence of a strong culture or a well-integrated set of specific values, beliefs and manifested behaviour patterns (Marcoulides and Heck, 1993:209).

Culture and Organisational Effectiveness For the purpose of simplicity, it is assumed that in discussing organisational culture, reference will be specifically to the artefacts that are characteristic of an organisation that are created or underpinned by shared values and basic collective assumptions. It is necessary however, to first establish the significance of organisational culture as it relates to organisational performance or effectiveness and secondly, to assert its relevance to police services. Additionally, for the purpose of this discussion, it is also assumed that the occupational culture that is common throughout most, if not all, police forces or services is encompassed within the organisational culture as it is conceived as an organisation (Chan 1999:103).

Denison (1984:19) believes that strong organisational cultures bear direct influence on individual attitudes and performance as well as that of sub-groups within the organisation. These shared values instil a sense of belonging to the group and collective ownership for organisational goals. This in turn establishes a psychological bond among individuals and sub groups reinforcing the consequences of failure in order to maintain or live up to expectations. Further, individual attitudes and performance are guided by shared beliefs and assumptions which collectively characterises the organisations processes, paradigms, prejudices and practices (Murphy and McKenna, 2007). These influence the level of performance achieved by groups, teams, departments and the organisation as a whole (Marcoulides and Heck: 1993).

In the context of police culture, Newburn and Neyroud (2008:203) refer to the informal prejudices, attitudes and working practices that influence the exercise of discretion especially at the lower ranks or by the street cops (Reuss-Ianni:1993; Reuss-Ianni and Ianni: 2005). These attitudes and actions are what the external public observe and become more familiar with and are often referenced in a negative context as the service is branded with institutional prejudice, resistance to change, misconduct and corruption (Chan:1999). These characterisations directly impact on the interaction between the public and the organisation and the quality of service that is effectively delivered. The trust and confidence of the various publics plays a significant role in the police organisations effectively achieving its mandate.

Internally, a strong culture is key to the development of new members, as culture is viewed as shared organised knowledge (Chan: 1999) where learning is facilitated through mentorship and contained within anecdotes and war stories shared by more experienced members. Chan (1999:117) articulated the concept implying that (structural) conditions experienced within the occupation influence and develop cultural knowledge which manifest themselves into actions or police practices. This concept is thus the underlying basis upon which cultural change will be discussed as these institutionally shared assumptions are key enablers to organisational transformation. It is important to note that while organisational culture is discussed it will also be in reference to the contributing subcultures that exist within the organisation.

Changes to the Police Culture Historically, the traditional police organisation was developed along a military-bureaucratic model (Niland, 1996; Murphy and McKenna, 2007). This type of organisation is characterised by a rank based authority structure, command and control, formalised discipline, and highly 4

centralised and insular in nature. The occupational culture that is manifested is as a result of a coping mechanism that is characterised by collective norms, attitudes and beliefs, thus developing in the process a unique culture that is common in essence to most police organisations globally (Waddington, 1999:296). Paoline III (2003) describes a process by which culture is formed and reinforced. He alludes to the effect of the [policing] environment which created uncertainty and anxiety due to perceived danger, coercive authority, scrutiny and role ambiguity. This in turn initiate a coping mechanism which is guided by beliefs and assumptions manifesting into outcomes or behaviours that now form the basis of police culture. Further, this cultural knowledge is socially transmitted through [the] positive reinforcement of successful solutions to problems or successful avoidance of painful situations (Chan, 1999:135).

As alluded to earlier, in most discussions the term police culture generally seems to attract a negative connotation as it is often discussed in the context of prejudices, use of force, corruption, resistance to change, etc. Changes to the organisational culture are therefore being discussed on the premise that not all aspects of the characterisation of police culture are negative and have a malign influence on criminal justice (Waddington, 1999). To a large extent the norms, values and beliefs of the police service have played a significant role in the organisational effectiveness and survivability. Based on the assumption that it is through these shared norms that much learning is facilitated between new members and the experienced, as well as, the group dynamics that impose an informal system of discipline and governance that many of the organisational achievements are realised and knowledge is transferred. The trust that is developed that is critical in times of danger is reinforced by the support, camaraderie and espirit de corp that exist within teams, units, departments and by extension the organisation. Traits such as honour, respect and loyalty (Dempsey and Frost, 2005) are underpinning core values that form the basis upon which 5

attitudes are developed. These very assumptions however have also reinforced the clannishness, lack of trust, suspiciousness, solidarity and biases that are often affiliated with the culture of police organisations. These features of police culture however, have been the subject of many studies as they bear direct impact on the relevance of the organisation and its ability to interact with its varied stakeholders in the course of achieving its mandate.

If then, organisational culture is significant to the survivability and performance of a police organisation, how and why should changes be of benefit to the institution. To address this issue, focus is paid on those aspects of the police culture that connote negativity and are obstacles to the progress of the organisation as a whole. Human resource related prejudices that are often associated with the culture of police organisations include perceived biases that are based upon race and ethnicity, religion, gender and the machismo culture (Benson, 2001), sexual orientation and age (Newburn and Reiner, 2007). It is worthy to note that this is a generalised categorisation that impact differently in police organisations from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and to varying extents within subcultures in policing departments. The effect of the anti-education attitude, institutionalised police deviance, crime-fighting operational predominance, the excessive use of minimum force and the insular attitude which is compounded by blind loyalty, are all characteristic of the traditional police institutions, which are in need of reform in order to satisfy the diverse and evolving mandate that are now imposed.

Internally, prejudices whether real or perceived, that are based upon race and ethnicity are directly linked to the issues of equal opportunity for promotions and other progressive activities. Ethnic minority officers, to whom biases and discrimination are allegedly meted out has a tendency to be clannish and would not rock the boat for fear of victimization and ostracism 6

(Benson, 2001). This same effect holds true for women in the police service or individuals who subscribe to non-traditional sexual orientations. This fear or misplaced loyalty to the group often facilitates corruption and deviance as the repercussions for opposing the team is severe. Women in the service, however, share an additional experience in one of the worlds most masculine occupations (Niland, 1996). There is the perception that women need to be more than they can be in order to be given equitable consideration. The historical and predominant male environment or cult of masculinity (Young, 1991:192) lends itself to the machismo or masculine values that present significant challenges to female members (Niland, 1996).

Externally, members of the public are extremely apprehensive about their interaction with the police institution which is believed to be fraught with racial profiling, sexism and bias against religious communities. A culture of corruption that seems to prevail is further compounded by a lack of transparency, a lack of will to immediately and publicly investigate complaints of abuse of rights and excessive use of force. The insularity and segregation from the public that is driven by the we versus them attitude and the internally held belief that they do not understand police work attitude further distances the police from the public that they serve. Additionally, there is a powerful socialising process that endorses the use of force for selfprotection (Warren and James, 2000:61) that is inculcated from initial training and encouraged through the absence of intervention by the leadership furthering the solidarity culture. In response to the evolving and dynamic nature of the policing environment i.e. global crime trends, the expectation of non-traditional service and the need for more humane approaches that are free of perceived prejudices, a more transparent, accountable and adaptive organisation is required. The assumptions that create the type of insular culture must allow for a more relevant, modern and adaptive institution. 7

In order to address some of the management challenges that also exist in the service, developmental reform has been embarked upon. To this end, higher education has been a feature for ensuring the intellectual capacity to adapt to new management strategies in policing that has replaced the traditional approach. Higher levels of education as a requirement for recruitment and elevation particularly at the management level has been meted with suspicion. From the perspective of promotion the more experienced, less academically qualified member tends to feel threatened by the demands of the reformed assessment and promotion criteria. The trauma and uncertainty created by this process initiates a coping mechanism that triggers resistance and a virtual protest in order to maintain the more stable status qou ante (Murphy and McKenna, 2007).

Albeit perceived cultural prejudices, processes or paradigms, some aspects of the police service cultures and subcultures have proven to be negatively oriented and have acted counterproductive to the organisations objectives. This negativity has had a direct impact on recruitment into the organisation as well as for the well-being of its own members. To this extent, there is need for reform that is geared toward some cultural change in order that the organisation becomes more effective within its role and relevant to the stakeholders that it serves.

Culture Changes Implications for Leadership and Management Police organisations have moved away from its original militarised bureaucratic orientation toward a more broadly based system of interconnectedness (Murphy and McKenna, 2007) with non-traditional partners and engaging more business oriented, performance-based systems, structures and strategies. Such strategies include problem-oriented policing, community policing, 8

public-order ("broken windows") policing, "zero-tolerance" policing, evidence-based policing, the use of COMPSTAT for strategic problem-solving, and police technical assistance for enhancing the security of community institutions and citizens. These variations of policing models imply the need for a reformed organisation, the culture of which complements these strategies (Newburn, 2005).

Dismantling of the negative features of police culture can be achieved, to some extent by inclusion within the organisation, of previously excluded members based upon race, sexual orientation and other perceived discriminatory issues. Recruitment practises should be employed that are more attractive to higher educated applicants and inclusive of more specialised fields such as technology, forensics and statistical analysis which are significant components within the newer policing models that have been developed.

In addition, more focus should be placed in the less dominant functions that the police service are now expected to fulfil i.e. maintenance of order and provision of service. Training, performance evaluation and systems of recognition such as promotion should also be aligned to encourage attention to these traditionally neglected roles.

Orientation of the executive level (management) towards instilling the reformed values is to be undertaken. There is an implication for training across the various levels of the police service to engender the acceptance of this new dispensation. Systems of accountability, transparency and unbiased assessment should be created to encourage trust among the police population in order that the traditional underlying assumptions present less resistance to this type of reform.

The traditional police culture features insularity, suspicion, biases, and an attitude of we are not understood. In todays environment a more sophisticated and complex policing approach is needed in response to an evolving sophisticated and well networked crime environment. An appropriate law enforcement response encompasses a multifaceted approach that integrates all functions of the police i.e. operational crime fighting, maintaining order and service to the citizenry. It speaks to the need for collaborative, cross-jurisdictional, partnership oriented response to effectively and efficiently employ resources (Murphy and McKenna, 2007) or the reorientation to what Carmel Niland (1996) has referred to as the feminine values.

In its present state, the culture and subcultures of police institutions pose some challenge in readily adapting to these requirements and building the levels of trust and cooperation required for inter-agency partnerships. These radical changes have significant implications for the management level of the police service as these changes must be initiated and implemented through their intervention.

Conclusion The police institution is under constant pressure to adapt to the demands of its 21st century environment. The re-alignment of the organisations continues to be hindered to some extent by the paradoxes of organisational culture. On the one hand, police culture accounts for its effective performance and survivability. On the other hand, these same shared values have presented themselves as barriers to change. Some impacting forces that demand that the police institution address the need for cultural reform include the role transformation of the service oriented toward community policing and other modern intelligence and evidence based policing models,

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the courting of nontraditional partnerships, expectations of citizens among other stakeholders, community demographics and reformed evaluation criteria to mention a few (Mood, 1999).

Transformational leadership is therefore required to engender the necessary cultural changes (Harrison, 1998) in attitudes and beliefs that will re-align the police service to adapt to its evolved environment. Leadership must assume the responsibility for ensuring that there is a clear road map and change management process that can adequately and effectively deal with potential resistance to change that spans the vertical structure of the organisation. Distrust of the transformation process can be engendered when there is ambiguity and anxiety resulting in stress. A reversion to traditional coping mechanisms can be avoided by ensuring an institutionally accepted vision which is effectively communicated throughout the organisation. Additionally, the objectives of the transformation process must assure, particularly to vulnerable groups, an equitable and stable system that can be realistically achieved. Effective change must therefore build on the existing culture instead of attempting to impose a totally new and unfamiliar system of values (Harrison, 1998).

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