Organizational behavior in a criminal justice agency is the way in which employees and their superiors interact amongst themselves and with one another both positively and negatively. Organizational behavior itself is the study of social conduct as it relates to the confines of a specific group. It is the study of how an individual or group interacts with one another and the dynamics of the personal relationships that evolve from that contact (Duan, Lam, Chen, & Zhong, 2010). The shifting paradigm trends describe by Schermerhorn, Hunt, and Osborn (2008) can be used to delve further into the understanding of the organizational behavior that exists in most criminal justice agencies. The archetypical performance falls into one of seven categories; commitment to ethical behavior, importance of human capital, demise of command-and-control, emphasis on team work, pervasive influence of information technology, respect for new workforce expectations, and changing careers. From these trends both positive and negative characteristics of criminal justice agencies can be identified.
“Commitment to ethical behavior: Highly publicized scandals involving unethical and illegal business practices prompt concerns for ethical behavior in the workplace; there is growing intolerance for breaches of public faith by organizations and those who run them” (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2008, para. 14). In criminal justice agencies ethical violations often are handled with little fan fair. Any level of impropriety introduced in the prying public eye can have innumerous repercussions. The loss of public support and trust can be a huge problem, but it affects the internal structure too. Depending on how fairly and swiftly the situation is handled determines whether or not those in charge gain or lose respect. Judgments will be passed on how the situation was controlled, and how it should have been dealt with. In delicate matters like this behaviors of retaliation and accusations of bias are important to be kept at a minimum.
“Importance of human capital: A dynamic and complex environment poses continuous challenges; sustained success is earned through knowledge, experience, and commitments of people as valuable human assets of organizations” (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2008, para. 14). The workforce is the heart of a criminal justice agency. It should be the single most cherished asset. The appreciation of experience by an organization is vital. But more importantly the recognition, respect, and aspiration by new members and seasoned is a must. This necessity recognizes a clear chain of command and model of training. “Demise of command-and-control: Traditional hierarchical structures are proving incapable of handling new environmental pressures and demands; they are being replaced by flexible structures and participatory work settings that fully value human capital” (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2008, para. 14). Shared responsibility and the extinction of the “because it has always been done that way” is a requirement in the modern criminal justice agency. It is being replaced by the attitude that the old way is not always the best way, and we all have a lot to learn from one another.
While command still flows in one direction; ideas can come from anywhere. “Emphasis on teamwork: Organizations today are less vertical and more horizontal in focus; driven by complex environments and customer demands, work is increasingly team based with a focus on peer contributions” (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2008, para. 14). In a criminal justice agency teamwork may have become common place, but improvements still need to be made in the area of information sharing. While no man is an island, neither is an agency. For the sake of public welfare resources need to be pooled. “Pervasive influence of information technology: As computers penetrate all aspects of the workplace, implications for workflows, work arrangements, and organizational systems and processes are far-reaching” (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2008, para. 14). We are in the information technology age and the correct resources and know-how can be the deciding factor in the constant struggle between criminals and policing agencies.
Increased educational and computer skills demands are needed to boost and maintain an advantage at any level of criminal justice agency. “Respect for new workforce expectations: The new generation of workers is less tolerant of hierarchy, more informal, and less concerned about status; organizations are paying more attention to helping members balance work responsibilities and personal affairs” (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2008, para. 14). While a certain amount of attention should be paid to new workforce expectations it is important not to compromise the integrity of the job expectations. A balanced life should lead to a happy and relaxed employee who theoretically should also be more effective and efficient in an effort to maintain employment in the desired environment.
Employer’s must remain fair but also realize their top priority in the criminal justice field is not to ensure employee happiness. An employee who can balance work and a private life on his own should be a valuable commodity. “Changing careers: The new realities of a global economy find employers using more “offshoring” and “outsourcing” of jobs; more individuals are now working as independent contractors rather than as traditional full-time employees” (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2008, para. 14).
In criminal justice agency this trend is no different. It is not uncommon for governments to hire private security firms and private corrections companies. However, by outsourcing such positions power is lost in the public sector. Monitoring a regulations create more work when dealing with outside policing forces. It also opens up a gray area for bad behavior and a hired gun mentality. While roles may be redefined privatization of criminal justice agencies can be more of a problem than a convenience. Study of workplace environments and the effects of the personnel’s behavior can only continue to bring about recognition of areas in need of improvement.
Duan, J., Lam, W., Chen, Z., & Zhong, J.A. (2010). Leadership justice, negative organizational behaviors, and the mediating effect of affective commitment. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 38(9), 1287-1296. Retrieved from http://biere.louisiana.edu:2092/ehost/detail?hid=17&sid=5d563aca-ec9a-43c49e42db48b73a6784%40sessionmgr4&vid=4&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=sih&AN=54018927
Schermerhorn, J.R., Hunt, J. G., & Osborn, R. N. (2008). Organizational Behavior. Available from https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/content/eBookLibrary2/content/eReader.aspx.
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