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Tracking change in Northern Ireland policing: temporal phases and key themes

Joanne Murphy (Queen’s University Management School, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 16 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore and explain the change process in Northern Ireland policing through an analysis of temporally bracketed change phases and key change delivery themes ranging from 1996 to 2012.

Design/methodology/approach

The research approach adopted is process based, longitudinal and multi-method, utilising “temporal bracketing” to determine phases of change and conjunctural reasoning to unravel the systematic factors interacting over time, within the case.

Findings

The paper identifies and temporally brackets four phases of change: “Tipping point”; “Implementation, Symbolic Modification and Resistance”; “Power Assisted Steering”; and “A Return to Turbulence”, identifies four themes that emerge from RUC-PSNI experience: the role of adaptive leadership; pace and sequencing of change implementation; sufficient resourcing; and the impact of external agents acting as boundary spanners, and comments on the prominence of these themes through the phases. The paper goes on to reflect upon how these phases and themes inform our understanding of organisational change within policing organisations generally and within politically pressurised transition processes.

Originality/value

The contribution of the paper lies in the documentation of an almost unique organisational case in an environmentally forced change process. In this it contains lessons for other organisations facing similar, if less extreme challenges and presents an example of intense change analysed longitudinally.

Keywords

Citation

Murphy, J. (2015), "Tracking change in Northern Ireland policing: temporal phases and key themes", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 38 No. 1, pp. 117-131. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-10-2014-0106

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited