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Organizational Justice and Officer "Buy In" in American Policing

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2017
15 pages
This study examined the dimensions of organizational justice in police organizations and assessed how they contribute to organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and compliance with agency rules.
A survey of 15,236 sworn officers from a national sample of 88 agencies was used, along with other agency-level and community-level variables. Multi-level models assessed how four dimensions of organizational justice affected these outcomes. The study found that more favorable perceptions of organizational justice were strongly related to increased commitment to the organization, job satisfaction, and compliance with agency rules. Perceptions of organization-wide justice, leadership justice, and diversity justice were especially important in predicting those outcome measures. The findings suggest that “buy in” to reforms and police compliance with rules is much more likely when supervisors and leaders are fair, respectful, give officers input, provide growth opportunities, and show concern for officers’ welfare. As such, agencies would benefit from leadership and leadership training that values the core principles of organizational justice. This study provides clarity about how organizational justice is perceived by police officers, including women and officers of color, and provides an unprecedented test of organizational justice theory in diverse police agencies. Regarding the study’s limitations, this report notes that although the sample of agencies was broad and diverse, it should not be considered representative of smaller municipal police departments and sheriff’s offices in the United States. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: March 1, 2017