American University
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Beyond the Rhetoric: Factors Influencing the Implementation of Strategic Plans by American Police Agencies

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posted on 2023-09-07, 05:08 authored by Keith Larson Williams

Police managers must find a means to balance external and internal pressures and develop organizations that can accomplish their goals in the face of conflicting demands. Some police agencies appear willing and able to adopt innovative practices. This research examines strategic planning, a management concept that is relatively new to police organizations, and the factors that influence its implementation. While there is evidence that strategic planning in public agencies such as the police has been successful, little is known about the factors that affect its implementation. The larger question this study examines is; What factors explain variation in the level of police organizational commitment to change, as indicated by agencies implementing a strategic plan as planned? I have chosen to focus on the efforts of U.S. police agencies and base my research on the “open systems” perspective that acknowledges that police organizations are enmeshed in complex environments that determine their work and tasks. Two linking theories—contingency theory and institutional theory—will also be used in the theoretical framework. A conceptual model will be developed that illustrates how innovation implementation occurs. Two measures, inclusiveness and scope of performance measures, along with measures founded in institutional and contingency theories, will be tested and analyzed to understand what factors play a role in the implementation of the strategic plan as proposed. The data to test this model comes from three sources. Zhao, Thurman & Ren’s (2003) survey data of 105 police agencies forms the basis of the analyses. Data from the Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics survey addresses the constructs of organizational structure and capacity. U.S. Census data provides information about political structure and community heterogeneity. The results of this research conclude that inclusiveness plays a significant role in implementation of a strategic plan; more specifically, the inclusion of internal stakeholders is the most significant determinant of the successful implementation of the innovation of a strategic plan. The findings suggest that police agencies should focus their efforts on including the members of the agency in the development of, training on and assessment of a strategic plan to ensure successful implementation.





Degree awarded: Ph.D. Justice, Law and Society. American University


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American University. Department of Justice, Law and Society

Degree level

  • Doctoral

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