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Police Perceptions of Education as an Entitlement to Promotion: An Equity Theory Perspective

NCJ Number
American Journal of Police Volume: 12 Issue: 2 Dated: (1993) Pages: 77-100
L B Buckley; J H McGinnis; M G Petrunik
Date Published
24 pages
This study examines police attitudes toward higher education as a criterion for promotion from the perspective of equity theory.
An early formulation of equity theory is Adams (1965) proposition that equity exists in an interaction when one's outcomes are proportional to one's inputs. Study participants were drawn from two mid-sized (600 and 1,200 officers) Canadian regional police forces that provide both urban and rural policing. Each force received 125 questionnaires that were completed by a random sample of constables with 5 to 14 years of service with their current force. A total of 156 constables responded, representing a 62-percent return rate. With the exception of educational level, there were no significant differences between forces on age range, sex distribution, marital status, seniority, or postings. A questionnaire developed for the study (Career Attitude Survey) solicited information on respondents' general background and demography. It also asked about their attitudes toward education as a requirement for promotion in comparison to seniority, job performance, and experience. Study findings show a relationship between educational level and endorsement of education as a promotion qualification. Other findings are consistent with the conclusion that police officers will be satisfied with their jobs and careers as long as they believe that their qualifications for promotion are good and their promotional prospects are high; however, if officers do not receive desired rewards for what they perceive to be relevant qualifications, job and career satisfaction may decline. The study recommends that police agencies make clear to their personnel the weight that will be given to various qualifications for promotion. 5 tables and 62 references