Measurement and Association in the Structure of Municipal Police Organizations

Published in: Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management , v. 26, no. 2, 2003, p. 276-297

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2005

by Jeremy M. Wilson

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Aside from a few groundbreaking studies, there has been little empirical exploration into the structure of American police organizations. Traditional organizational inquiries have suggested that structural characteristics can be differentiated between those that represent control mechanisms to coordinate and manage the complexity. This research investigates whether these various structural elements are indicative of two latent constructs by developing and testing measurement models representing structural complexity and control. Organizational scholars have also argued that structural complexity increases the demand for structural control. Maguire investigated this issue in the context of police organizations and found little support for the hypothesis. The paper reexamines this relationship by extending the replicating Maguire's analysis to ascertain if a different specification and sample sustain his conclusion. Utilizing data from the 1997 Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics survey and a survey conducted by Edward Maguire, the paper explores these issues using a sample of 401 large, municipal police organizations in the USA. The results indicate that structural control is unidimensional, while structural complexity is not. This study also provides modest evidence supporting an association between structural complexity and control.

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