Shifting cultures: managerialism and the rise of “performance”

Cockcroft, Tom orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7249-7285 and Beattie, Iain (2009) Shifting cultures: managerialism and the rise of “performance”. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 32 (3). pp. 526-540.

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the consequences that followed the introduction of
a performance measurement regime that is introduced into a subdivision of an English police force.
The police force under consideration is located in a county that covers over 1,500 square miles and
envelops areas as diverse as large urban conurbations, small villages and considerable rural expanses.
Design/methodology/approach – Part of this research utilised semi-structured interviews to
gauge officers’ reactions to the new system and the impact on their occupational behaviour.
Findings – The research found widespread resistance to the new system, due to a perception that the
performance indicators did not fully reflect the breadth of the officer role. Similarly, evidence emerged
to suggest that performance indicators can play a key role in focussing officers’ attention on those core
behaviours being measured and encouraging presentational and working styles which, whilst
satisfying scoring criteria, might, arguably, be deemed inappropriate.
Research limitations/implications – The research is limited by its focus upon officers working
under a pilot project in a solitary subdivision. Further research might seek to draw on the views of
larger numbers of officers working under a variety of police performance measurement mechanisms.
Such an approach would facilitate the development of guides to best practice in both the formulation
and implementation of such regimes and would, conceivably, help overcome officer resistance to such
Originality/value – The paper is original in that acknowledges, and focuses upon, the cultural
dynamics of the police officer and uses this approach to chart the challenges of effective
implementation of such strategies. As such, the paper should be of interest to middle and senior police
managers tasked with implementing effective performance measurement. Furthermore, this paper,
although originating from evaluation research, represents a more critical contextualisation of the
interviews, which are conducted with officers. In doing so, it seeks to locate the practicalities
associated with the introduction of “performance measurement” against the reality of police work.

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