A Multilevel framework for understanding police culture: The role of the workgroup

Jason R. Ingram, Eugene A. Paoline, William Terrill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Relying on a well-established theoretical paradigm from organizational psychology, the aim of the current inquiry is to apply a multilevel approach to the study of police culture that identifies workgroups as important entities that influence officers' occupational outlooks. More specifically, we propose that police culture be assessed in a way similar to concepts in criminology, such as collective efficacy and street culture, whereby the shared features of individuals' environments are considered. Within this framework, we draw on survey data from five municipal police agencies to examine how strongly officers within 187 separate workgroups share culture, as well as the extent to which culture differs across these workgroups. Collectively, the findings suggest that the workgroup serves as a viable context that patterns culture in police organizations. As such, the study provides a way to move beyond conceptualizations of police culture as either a purely monolithic or an individual-level phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-397
Number of pages33
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Multilevel theory
  • Organizational workgroups
  • Police attitudes
  • Police culture
  • Police typologies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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