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An investigation of the prevalence and impact of organisational learning in UK police forces.

Ritchie, Stephen Harvey


Stephen Harvey Ritchie


David Lal

Tony Miller


This research aims to inform the relevance of Organisational Learning (OL) to policing management practice by investigating its impact and prevalence in UK policing. In the prescriptive literature, OL is propounded as an important aspect of effective organisations that needs to be leveraged. The field of OL is found to be diverse, lacking empirical work, and in need of suitable research techniques. To focus the research, a specific example of OL is proposed in performance management (PM) practice. The PM literature shows the theoretical foundations for practice are underdeveloped. This research addresses this by combining these two fields. As a result, practical data is made available to support an examination of OL and a theoretical basis for PM is developed. In the absence of a suitable model to structure data collection, a new OL model of PM is derived from the literature. A Critical Realist position is adopted which aims to identify the nature of the phenomena underlying OL. Three case studies with UK Police Forces, which involved fifty-two interviewees, were undertaken during 2008. A pilot case study was undertaken in Scotland, with the follow-up case studies in England and Northern Ireland. The data from interviews is analysed in NVivo using a range of coding techniques. Using the results from these case studies, the provisional OL Model of PM is tested and developed further. PM practice is found to involve the creation of knowledge and the creation of action and the relationship to organisational purpose is highlighted. Six elements of the OL process are defined as Attention, Analysis, Advising, Adjusting, Affecting and Achieving. Dimensions influencing PM practice in the cases are identified. The outcomes of the research indicate relevance to policing management practice, as well as to the wider fields of PM practice and OL theory.


RITCHIE, S.H. 2010. An investigation of the prevalence and impact of organisational learning in UK police forces. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Apr 5, 2011
Publicly Available Date Apr 5, 2011
Keywords Organisational learning; Performance management; Critical realism; Case study; UK policing
Public URL
Award Date Dec 31, 2010


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