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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Public Management Review

For a Special Issue on
Insights for Public Management from Policing

Abstract deadline
15 November 2021

Manuscript deadline
30 April 2022

Cover image - Public Management Review

Special Issue Editor(s)

Jean Hartley, Centre for Policing Research and Learning, Open University Business School, The Open University, UK
[email protected]

Edoardo Ongaro, Department of Public Leadership and Social Enterprise, Open University Business School, The Open University, UK
[email protected]

Kathryn Quick, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, USA
[email protected]

Eckhard Schröter, Department of Administrative Sciences, German University of the Police, Germany
[email protected]

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Insights for Public Management from Policing

This call for papers aims to bridge the current gap between two fields – policing and public management – for the advancement of the field of public management. The papers will focus on aspects of policing, but all papers need to make clear how they contribute to developing, extending or challenging public management theories, not criminal justice theory primarily.

The way public management is theorised is highly dependent on the nature of the public service involved and the eco-system in which the service operates.  This special issue offers opportunities for the development of key concepts and theories in public management from policing.  Policing is at the heart of relationships between citizens and the state, raising important theoretical questions about legitimacy, authority, governance and service provision.   Policing is  a public service which has coercive as well as welfare elements, and which operates from local to international levels.  While public management theory has been informed and widely examined in the context of services of the extended welfare state and public utilities, policing – despite being a prominent facet of government - has been unduly neglected both in its own terms in public management and as a field of systematic and comparative public management research.  We argue that this neglect is detrimental to both the advancement of public management theory and the improvement of policing practices.

Policing has a great deal to offer to public management.  In the past, the field of policing has informed the development of several key concepts in public management.  However, this cross-fertilization has only been sporadic, suggesting the added value of more systematic inclusion of policing as a public service in public management.  Indeed, this topic is rapidly gaining attention from policy-makers, practitioners, communities, and scholars of governance and public management. There has been a marked increase in conference papers on this topic at venues such as IRSPM, PMRC, and public management conferences on gender and racial equity.

Therefore, policing can help to refine and test the boundaries of many concepts and theories of public management. Policing as a public service offers a number of characteristics that may provide rich insights from a public management perspective, such as:

  1. The study of policing raises questions of legitimacy, equity, power, authority, governance and organizational performance. Policing, in principle, has state authority to use coercive (even lethal at times) physical force against its own citizens and residents – a fact that separates policing from other government services though some may use coercive elements in less severe form (e.g. sectioning patients in healthcare, social workers monitoring families, teachers informing on students). It follows from this proximity to the potentially coercive and obligatory elements of the state that the focus in policing is not only on “consumers” or “customers”, but on “citizens,” “obligates,” “victims” “survivors” and “subjects”. Stakeholders affected by policing cannot necessarily be construed as “beneficiaries” or “clients.” Research on legitimacy and the appropriate use of force underline important questions and values for society about diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  2. There is extensive public debate currently about whether and how policing is value-creating or value-destroying, elevating policing as a focal point about whether government in general, or any specific area of government activity in particular, is necessary, desired, and positive.  Value creation by policing raises key questions about sources of legitimacy, tensions between value created or destroyed at individual or collective levels and the difference that contexts or eco-systems make in the shaping of public value creation. The extent to which policing is viewed as a repressive or emancipatory service heavily depends on equity lenses and the chosen perspective of individuals, groups or collectives within society, or society as a whole.  Policing is a focal point of attention to racism and racial equity in the provision of government services and distribution of impacts. This situation raises the interesting issue of what public value policing creates or destroys for individual citizens compared with the creation and destruction of public value for groups or society as a whole.
  3. Policing is a public service that often requires a multi-level approach in implementation. Policing can be local, regional, national or international, reflecting the nature of particular crimes and vulnerabilities. Unlike some public services, policing activities do not always take place within the geographical boundaries of the nation state, requiring cross-border collaboration on global crime, human trafficking and more. Importantly, this also includes opportunities for comparative research.

Call for papers

This call encourages the submission of papers addressing all facets of mainstreaming policing into public management. Submitted proposals may deal with a wide range of issues in policing from institutional, organizational and governance perspectives, which includes questions of power and authority, legitimacy and equity, management and performance. Papers must contribute to the advancement of the theory and practice of public management. Papers may wish to address any of the below listed topics – this list is indicative rather than exhaustive.

Balancing societal and individual values in policing: Lessons for theories and concepts in public management

  • framing the particular nature of policing as a public management example (state monopoly on the use of force in democratic settings, repression, prevention, protection, surveillance, ‘culture of control,’ historic origins in control of colonized populations or racial minorities)
  • problematizing through public management lenses, conceptually and theoretically, the interactions between the police and the public (citizenship, clients, customers, partners, obligates, ‘subjects’ and victims)
  • delineating key features of special types of public sector organizations (‘uniformed professionals’ in public services and ethical, deontological, organizational and personnel management implications – similarities and dissimilarities with non-uniformed professionals in public services; secretive organizations, high-reliability organizations)
  • analysing and appraising internal and external authority, legitimacy and legitimation of policing as a public service, diversity and inclusion; assessing public value and public values

Social and political environment and public policy influences on policing and public management

  • developing frameworks from a public management standpoint to analyse the effects of social divisions, political polarization, racial-ethnic conflict and discrimination
  • testing and further refining theories on the use of (bureaucratic) discretion by warranted and unwarranted police officers as ‘street level bureaucrats’ and their decision dilemmas; profiles and typologies of encounters between the state and citizens, residents, suspects, vulnerable people, legal and illegal immigrants
  • revisiting theories and practices about wicked issues and cross-policy coordination through the case of policing services (e.g. healthcare and policing in coping with a pandemic; mental health services; protecting vulnerable citizens and service users)
  • mapping, framing and elucidating the cross-roads between policing and welfare services (policing and public health; the long-term impact of Covid-19 on policing practices)

Insights for public management from policing strategies, structures, cultures and processes

  • developing the field of comparative public administration and management through the analysis of state traditions and administrative cultures as reflected in policing (e.g. community policing compared with militaristic policing)
  • conceptualising from a public management perspective the key features of policing in the ‘enabling state’: relation of public vs. private policing, degree of outsourcing of police activities and private-sector involvement, public-private-partnerships and plural policing, involvement of volunteers, co-produced policing
  • revisiting intergovernmental relations and multi-level governance in the specific field of policing (local, regional, national, see also below for international levels of policing) and thereby refining theorisations of multi-level governance from a public management perspective
  • revisiting theories about steering, leadership and management processes and systems of police organizations (governance, leadership, demand management, performance management, public value, contractual arrangements, incentive structures; civilian oversight of policing)
  • exploring public management issues around professional identities, ethical dilemmas, role understandings, job-related attitudes, including motivation, job satisfaction and wellbeing
  • exploring evidence and developing perspectives about discretion and decision-making in digitally-enabled policing (use of AI, big data, machine learning in policing and surveillance technologies; use of social media by police and publics over policing; cyberspace and policing; regulatory regimes and power relations).

Managing policing across borders, states and jurisdictions: implications for cross-jurisdictional public management

  • developing international public management through cases and models of policing in international and supranational settings: interconnected issues of authority, legitimacy and performance
  • developing our understanding of the dynamics of inter-organizational collaborations in public services through the study of international crime and border policing
  • producing knowledge about the management processes of international police missions: planning, implementation, and evaluation

Submission Instructions

Please note that we are inviting submissions in two tranches.  Authors can submit to either initial deadline, depending on the timeline they wish to work to.  Submitting by the first timeline gives more time to prepare a full paper but gives no other advantage.  All submissions will be treated equally.

15 Nov 2021: Deadline for first tranche submissions of a 500 word abstract.  Authors should initially submit only an abstract at this point.  It should include both an outline of the paper’s content/line of argument and also make clear what is the contribution to insights about public management.

30 Nov 2021: Deadline for feedback from editors on first tranche abstracts, which will enable a longer period in which to submit the full paper.  Invitation to authors with successful abstracts to join the workshop with a full paper

7 Jan 2022: Deadline for second tranche submissions of a 500 word abstract, details as for first tranche

17 Jan 2022: Deadline for feedback from editors on second tranche abstracts.  Invitation to authors with successful abstracts to join the workshop with a full paper

30 Apr 2022: Full papers submitted directly to the special issue editors

12-13 May 2022: Online workshop where authors will share their full papers and along with the editors, offer and give feedback and discern linkages across papers

30 Jun 2022: Deadline for formal submission of post-workshop papers through PMR manuscript system with a process including academic review and if necessary revisions and resubmissions

The timeline will proceed through to production in March 2023, with time for review and revisions.

Submission of Abstracts

Authors are welcome to discuss paper ideas informally with any of the editors before submitting an abstract.  The 500 word abstract should be submitted as an email attachment to the special issue administrator at the Open University Centre for Policing Research and Learning:  Natalie Rankin:  [email protected]

Instructions for Authors