"Climate for ethics" and occupational-organisational commitment conflict
Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Faculty of Regional Professional Studies
School of Regional Professional Studies
Many, if not all, professions place a high value on ethical conduct. Professionals working in organisations that are perceived to have a low regard for ethics should therefore experience occupational-organisational conflict leading to lower organisational commitment. This paper examines the relationship between police officers' perceptions of their organisation's commitment to ethics, and their affective commitment to that organisation and their occupation. Data from a recent survey (2005) of frontline police officers in Western Australia are analysed (n=1,837). Perceptions of officers early in their career about their organisation's commitment to ethics is more important to their commitment to their occupation than for officers with more than ten years' tenure. Perceptions of officers about their organisation's regard for ethics in the middle stage of their careers were found to impact relatively weakly on their commitment to their organisation compared with officers earlier or later in their career. The study suggests that leaders and managers in policing organisations should pay particular attention to the perceptions early career officers develop regarding ethics if they want to strengthen occupational and organisational commitment and increase the likelihood they will remain in working in the profession. The paper shows that police work demands that a strong climate for ethics exists within policing organisations.