Organization, Information and Learning Sciences ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 12-15-2017



This mixed methods study employed an instrumental single-bounded case approach to explore how a policing executive develops and sustains an ethically performing organization, given the phenomenological "policing power - public trust" relationship. Policing is foundational to rule of law and ethical performance in policing is fundamental to developing and sustaining a healthy policing power - public trust relationship. A review of relevant policing literature reveals a history of tension and conflict in this complex relationship. The literature review included relevant social contract theory, history of policing and the policing power-public trust relationship, relational leadership, servant leadership, transformational learning and leadership and change management. Organizational related literature included relevant aspects of organizational learning, performance, change and transformation.

Qualitative interviews were conducted with the policing executive and a quantitative survey instrument was pilot study validated and subsequently administered to the organization's sworn personnel. From qualitative and quantitative data collected, analyzed and integrated, 26 findings emerged. Further analysis of the findings resulted in four emergent themes. Results suggest that in a highly dynamic environment, a pragmatic role-modeling and holistic leadership strategy to drive ethical performance by leveraging a culture of accountability, best practice, and change readiness has potential external ecological application. In turn, ethical performance may generate public trust when an organization leverages innovative capacity to connect with its community through a robust strategy of active communication and transparency.

Although emergent findings or themes may have limited ecological application with similarly situated chiefs, organizations and communities, external generalizability is not foreseeable. Recommendations for future research include use of a multiple case study methodology to focus on one or more themes identified in this inquiry. A study could be undertaken to identify how leaders in organizations with relatively stable environments lead their respective organizations to perform ethically and build public trust. Given this organization's current success and expected future benefits from having developed and implemented a robust community engagement strategy, a study of similarly effective external communication strategies could be undertaken to identify the relative value and community impact.

Degree Name

Organization, Information and Learning Sciences

Level of Degree


Department Name

Organization, Information & Learning Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Patricia Boverie

Second Committee Member

Victor Law

Third Committee Member

Richard Miller

Fourth Committee Member

Mary Cooley

Fifth Committee Member

Robert Grassberger


policing leadership, ethical policing performance, policing ethics and public trust, police power and public trust

Document Type