Beyond police culture

Heidi Paesen (Leuven Institute of Criminology, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium)
Jeroen Maesschalck (Leuven Institute of Criminology, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium)
Kim Loyens (Utrecht University School of Governance, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Publication date: 8 May 2019



Combining insights from the traditional literature on police culture with insights from the broader literature on organisational culture and on grid-group cultural theory (Douglas, 1970), the purpose of this paper is to introduce a new 15-dimensional framework of “organisational culture in the police” and test this framework via a survey instrument. This new conceptualisation is broader than the traditional police culture concept and allows for comparisons of the police with other organisations.


A newly developed instrument to measure the 15-dimensional framework, called the “Leuven Organisational Culture Questionnaire (LOCQ)”, was tested in 64 local police forces in Belgium (n=3,847).


The hypothesised 15-dimensional model is largely confirmed by confirmatory factor analysis. Assessments of between-unit variation show that the LOCQ is sufficiently sensitive to identify differences between work units in police organisations. The authors also find that traditional police culture characteristics tend to vary slightly less between units than the other characteristics. Also, there is less variation for characteristics related to police work (e.g. law enforcement orientation and citizen orientation) than for characteristics associated with the unit level (e.g. weak supervisory support and internal solidarity) or the organisational level (e.g. rule orientation and results orientation).


This paper expands the traditional “police culture” concept to a more generic and theory-driven conceptualisation of “organisational culture in the police”. The survey instrument offers a standardised way to map and compare culture within police organisations, and to compare it with the culture of other organisations both within and outside law enforcement.



Paesen, H., Maesschalck, J. and Loyens, K. (2019), "Beyond police culture", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

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