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Police Perceptions of Their Work Environment - An Exploratory Study Into Organization Space and Time

NCJ Number
SOCIOLOGY OF WORK AND OCCUPATION Volume: 6 Issue: 1 Dated: (February 1979) Pages: 31-58
J V Maanen; R Katz
Date Published
28 pages
An organizational space and time paradigm was tested on a police department in order to clarify the employees' perceptions of their work environment.
The paradigm helps describe how individuals locate themselves within organizational boundaries and the consequences that are associated with an individual's location. It considers the temporal framework (timetable of daily activities and perceived future) that individuals adopt and also their spatial locations (the assumptions people make regarding how others in the organization view them). All 130 patrolmen working for a city police department served as a sample population. Research instruments included a questionnaire comprised of 32 descriptive statements which dealt with various aspects of the work environment and which were responded to on a seven-point Likert scale; a satisfaction questionnaire; and global performance ratings from sergeants for all patrolmen. The data were subjected to multidimensional scaling for analysis. The study found that a shared perceptual organization underlay the individual response sets. Patrolmen's perceptions of organizational space were more differentiated than their perceptions of organizational time: this may be explained by the fact that patrolmen's job activities and career advancements are guided by a great number of regulations and fixed procedures. Also, individuals' spatial and temporal perceptual sets were strongly related to their reported satisfaction and weakly related to their supervisors' evaluations. Individuals whose perceptions differed from those shared by the group were considerably and consistently more satisfied with all measures of their work. The patrolmen who coped with their work environment by becoming similar in thought and action to their colleagues were significantly less satisfied than those who did not.The study concludes that the results point to the usefulness of examining member perceptions of their work organization relative to those of their colleagues as a means of understanding their location and reponses in the organization. Such an approach represents a point of departure from more typical behavior science models by seeking first to discover the socially acquired and shared knowledge that members employ to organize and interpret their behavior. Data tables and a two-dimensional configuration figure are included. Footnotes and a reference list are provided. The 32 items included in the first questionnaire are appended.


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