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Perspectives on the police profession: an international investigation

P. Saskia Bayerl (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Kate E. Horton (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Gabriele Jacobs (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Sofie Rogiest (Department of Management, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium)
Zdenko Reguli (Department of Gymnastics and Combatives, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic)
Mario Gruschinske (Institute of Police Science, University of Applied Sciences of the State Police of Brandenburg, Oranienburg, Germany)
Pietro Costanzo (Department of Research and Innovation, Formit, Rome, Italy)
Trpe Stojanovski (MARRI Regional Centre, Skopje, Macedonia)
Gabriel Vonas (Department of Psychology, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj, Romania)
Mila Gascó (Institute of Public Governance and Management, ESADE-Ramon Llull University, Barcelona, Spain)
Karen Elliott (Durham University Business School, Durham University, Durham, UK)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 11 November 2014




The purpose of this paper is to clarify the diversity of professional perspectives on police culture in an international context.


In a first step the authors developed a standardized instrument of 45 occupational features for comparative analysis of police professional views. This set was inductively created from 3,441 descriptors of the police profession from a highly diverse sample of 166 police officers across eight European countries. Using this standardized instrument, Q-methodological interviews with another 100 police officers in six European countries were conducted.


The authors identified five perspectives on the police profession suggesting disparities in officers’ outlooks and understanding of their occupation. Yet, the findings also outline considerable overlaps in specific features considered important or unimportant across perspectives.

Research limitations/implications

The study emphasizes that police culture needs to be described beyond the logic of distinct dimensions in well-established typologies. Considering specific features of the police profession determines which aspects police officers agree on across organizational and national contexts and which aspects are unique.

Practical implications

The feature-based approach provides concrete pointers for the planning and implementation of (inter)national and inter-organizational collaborations as well as organizational change.


This study suggests an alternative approach to investigate police culture. It further offers a new perspective on police culture that transcends context-specific boundaries.



This research was partially funded by the European Commission as part of FP7 in the context of the COMPOSITE project (contract no. 241918).


Saskia Bayerl, P., E. Horton, K., Jacobs, G., Rogiest, S., Reguli, Z., Gruschinske, M., Costanzo, P., Stojanovski, T., Vonas, G., Gascó, M. and Elliott, K. (2014), "Perspectives on the police profession: an international investigation", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 37 No. 4, pp. 728-745.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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