Organizational behavior is the study of how individuals, structures, and groups affect human behavior in organizations. The field is interdisciplinary as it encompasses different fields including management, sociology, communication, and psychology. Organizational behavior plays an integral role in criminal justice. The behavior can significantly affect how a law enforcement agency is established and run, as well as its effectiveness in maintaining law and order. The paper will describe some of the approaches to managing organizational change in the sector as describing various forces of change and identification of observable aspects of organizational culture.
1. Behavior that can influence change in criminal justice agencies:
Social and political changes can heavily influence the organizational behaviors of criminal justice organizations. Additionally, political pressures and economic factors can significantly influence organizational behavior in criminal justice agencies (McShane & Williams, 2003).
Negative and positive social perception of the criminal justice agencies can act as a driver for change in organizational behavior. For instance, the rise in police killings of unarmed black youth and racial profiling when it comes to drugs bust, has led the society to have a negative perception of the police. There is a lot of friction between law enforcement officers and members of the public, especially minorities. The distrust caused by the strained relations between the two parties will ultimately alter how individuals in criminal justice agencies behave.
Some of the officers feel bitter about the negative perception and these feelings of resentment might pour into their daily work lives. The resentment might build up for nearly all the employees in an agency resulting in a change in organizational behavior. Police officers from such an agency may be unwilling or unable to dispense their duties to their communities effectively.
On the other hand, if criminal justice agencies across the country manage to quell the breeding contempt for law enforcement officers, then the situation may be salvaged. These agencies need to inculcate an organizational behavior that is aligned to serve the public without any discrimination or partisan methods.
2. Relationship between Organizational behavior and organizational systems
Organizational behavior and organizational systems heavily influence one another. The way individuals interact in a group can influence the entire agency’s structure. Interactions among personnel can also influence how the organization operates as a system. Most criminal justice agencies follow a hierarchical system where there is an obvious chain of command and rampant bureaucracy.
If the employees at the agency interact freely with each other, then the chain of command tends to be a bit lax. It creates an environment where deputies are allowed to make critical decisions without unnecessary input from their superiors. Thus, the relaxed interactions (organizational behavior) have altered the organizational systems. Loyalty and commitment are predominant in such organizations.
The organizational system can also influence the organizational behavior of the agency. If the system is rigid, then the atmosphere in the agency will also be rigid. People will only interact on a work level. Here, we see many people behave differently at work than they do outside of work. If the agency’s system shifts towards people-oriented policies, then the behavior of the employees will also change. They will begin treating each other fairly and appreciate each other’s efforts. Furthermore, healthy competition will abound in such a scenario (Erdogan, Liden & Kraimer, 2006). The agencies have to understand that changes in organizational systems translate to changes in the agency’s vision, mission, and goals. Consequently, the employees will change how they interact with everyone including fellow employees and the public in order to align themselves with the agency’s new vision and mission.
3. Management of perceptions of organizational stakeholders
The main way of managing the perceptions of organizational stakeholders is to allow the stakeholders to engage in the change or improvements occurring in the agency. Involving them in the change process helps reduce resistance to change and conflicts especially when new management is put in place. The stakeholder needs to be involved in the implementation of change if the management wants him to understand the importance of the changes.
4. Observable aspects
Some of the observable aspects of the organizational culture of criminal justice agencies include leadership, communication flows, conflict management strategies, organizational policies, dress and language, organizational diversity, technology, and the symbols and stories found in the specific agency.
5. Benefits of Change Management Strategies to Criminal Justice agencies
According to McShane and Williams (2003), change management strategies can be influential in changing the organizational behavior of the criminal justice agencies. It was previously believed that the high turnover rates among managers in the sector were a source of risk. However, recent reports indicate that change managers are very useful in quelling the conflict in these agencies.
A new management type has evolved within the agency that is short-term, conflict-driven, and change-oriented. The new type of change management is known as the Kamikaze management because it is only there to solve a particular conflict and then move on to other projects. The change manager is necessary and should be planned for when changes need to be made in the agencies. They are critical to the successful implementation of organizational changes in the agencies. Thus, this specialized role needs to be understood as well as incorporated into the traditional theories of leadership.
McShane, M.D., & Williams, F.P. (2003). Kamikaze Management: Ignored Role in the Administration of Criminal Justice Agencies. The Southwest Journal of Criminal Justice, 1(1): 3- 12.
Erdogan, B., Liden, R.C. & Kraimer, M.L. (2006). Justice and leader-member exchange: The moderating role of organizational culture. Academy of Management Journal, 49(1): 395-406.