The impact of leadership styles on police officer behaviour and well-being

Research Institution / Organisation

Loughborough University

Principal Researcher

Jamie Kathleen Ferrill

Level of Research


Project Start Date

October 2015

Research Context

This research uses ethnographic methods to explore the effect of leadership styles on behaviour and well-being of officers. The research is based on extant knowledge of leadership styles; the framework used is simply presented as a choice between transactional and transformational leadership styles (Burns, 1978; Bass, 1990), however it is shown that this is a more complex dichotomy than currently suggested. In particular the role of police cultures is understood to affect this relationship (Foster, 2005). It is an understanding that is developed from both management and sociological literatures.

The study focuses on front-line leaders including Inspectors, Chief Inspectors and Superintendents; the subordinates in the study are Police Constables. The analysis seeks the 'how' and the 'why' of the relationship between leadership styles exhibited and resulting officer behaviours and well-being. Through ethnography, this study seeks to fully understand the observed behaviours that exist by understanding the cultures within the police organisation, and also explains why the behaviours are being impacted the way they are by leadership styles and the conditions they exist in.  The study will involve observing a range of behaviours, which are inductively coded throughout the observation.  

This study has the potential to make a significant contribution to the organisational culture of police organisations. It will contribute to existing literature in leadership studies, the sociology of police and police cultures, as well as providing a unique view into the dynamics between leaders and officers through an ethnographic approach. The research also has practical applications in that it can recommend to the police organisation the desired behaviours which can be promoted, allowing for them to then revise or adapt policies, strategies and practices as appropriate. Furthermore, a comprehensive understanding of officer behaviour will lead to recommendations on positive and influential leadership styles, and link these to constructive organisational outcomes.

Research Methodology

‚ÄčThe data being used for this primarily qualitative study will be gathered from ethnography, semi-structured interviews, and lab-based experiments.

Interim reports and publications

‚ÄčNot available

Date due for completion

September 2018
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