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Structural elaboration in police organizations: an exploration

Alicia L. Jurek (Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA)
Matthew C. Matusiak (Department of Criminal Justice, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA)
Randa Embry Matusiak (Independent Researcher, Orlando, Florida, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 15 May 2017




The current research explores the structural elaboration of municipal American police organizations, specifically, the structural complexity of police organizations and its relationship to time. The purpose of this paper is to describe and test essential elements of the structural elaboration hypothesis.


The authors explore the structural elaboration hypothesis utilizing a sample of 219 large police departments across the USA. Data are drawn from multiple waves of the Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics survey and are analyzed using tobit and OLS regression techniques.


While there is some evidence that police departments are becoming more elaborate, little evidence for the structural elaboration hypothesis as a function of time is found.


This project is the first to specifically explore the structural elaboration hypothesis across multiple time points. Additionally, results highlight structural trends across a panel of large American police organizations and provide potential explanations for changes. Suggestions for large-scale policing data collection are also provided.



Jurek, A.L., Matusiak, M.C. and Matusiak, R.E. (2017), "Structural elaboration in police organizations: an exploration", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 40 No. 2, pp. 351-365.



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