Ties that bind? : confronting value conflict in community policing
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
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Autonomy has become the villain in many debates about government bureaucracies, and reformers have increasingly urged public agencies to build stronger ties with the outside world. These relationships can make organizations more effective and improve their legitimacy, but they also create new challenges for practice that research has not yet fully explored. In this study, based on a comparative analysis of eleven diverse case studies in policing, I describe the problems and dilemmas that working in partnership entails, and how effective practitioners overcome them. I argue that the central problems of building and sustaining partnerships involve conflict over values: Different social institutions advance different social values, and when the partners who cling to them try to collaborate, conflict flares up at the point of contact. In policing, a small number of conflicts appear recurrently in four different types of partnerships: In community ties, these conflicts involve the relative importance of soft crime, the proper level of police authority, and the tension between equity and the interests of individual neighborhoods; in business ties, they center on the private sector's responsibility for social impacts; in political ties, they involve fights about money, mistakes, and responsiveness; and in inter agency ties, they concern the relative importance of crime control compared with other goals of public policy, and the proper ordering of organizational domains. In some views, conflicts like these are unavoidable, and calls for "partnerships" among organizations are futile. But these cases suggest that many effective police practitioners have been able to overcome them in two ways. First, they employ strategies of institutional change (like appealing to an existing value to institutionalize a new one) to shift their priorities or those of their partners. They thereby close the normative gap that divides them, putting their partnerships on less-contentious ground. Second, some police departments have developed a capacity to attend to competing values in the manner of Isaiah Berlin's fox: Instead of subordinating all but one value in a dilemma, their practitioners have a moral humility and a penchant for "incompletely-theorized agreements" that makes them effective in a world of value pluralism.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 1999.Includes bibliographical references (p. 301-315).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.