The NPF successful?



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They contributed their views to the vision statement during shared-vision seminars as well as started feeling part of the process and the vision. To further facilitate this process as well as self-learning and team building, learning centres (with on-line computer systems for Internet) and coffee corners were created. The implementation of change have been successful so far in that police units were now able to use the latest technologies to further the progress of internal communication, teamwork and learning. Through the Internet they exchanged ideas and provided mutual support. The core requirement of the LO is a learning culture.

To become LO NPF needs a cultural change (Reschenthaler and Thompson, 1996). According to McLean and Marshall (1993) this involves the change of values, policies, beliefs and attitudes for everything we do and think in an organisation (cited by Mullins, 1999). For that purpose, leadership must facilitate the learning culture. The P&O Department and the Commissioner acting as leaders in the change management helped towards realising the importance of giving a complete and long-term commitment to the idea of LO (Johnson, 1990; Smircich&Morgan, 1982; cited by Heracleous and Tan 2001).

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As a result more people in the NPF were willing to speak up, to listen, to revisit old decisions and discuss past mistakes. According to the Deputy Assistant Commissioner there was also more transparency and willingness to admit mistakes. There has been a drop in the number of substantiated cases of assault and rudeness by police officers as well as improved discipline. So, to a greater extent the implementation of change and learning was a success. Of course, as many advantages and virtues as the LO may possess, there are still obstacles to its acceptance.

In the NPF these were the various structural and cultural barriers inherent to bureaucracies, such as turf battles, top-down decisions, lack of co-ordination and effectiveness, rivalry and secrecy, obedience out of fear, culture favouring internal distinctions, little participative decision making, etc. According to Sugarman (2003 a) even if we assume that the leaders of a certain company have agreed to adopt the LO, the stupendous inertial power of bureaucracy is still going to be there.

The resistance to change will always be present. To overcome these, managers need to demonstrate their commitment (like the Commissioner has done) to their subordinates by encouraging a climate of learning and self-development (Mullins, 1999). This was done in the NPF by the middle of 1998 when all police units had set up learning centres (as I already mentioned above) as well as after-action reviews to promote learning and facilitate internal communication and teamwork.

According to Mullins (1999), reflection, evaluation, praise and encouragement, which have long been established in the classical theories of learning are critical aspects of the process. By mid- 1998, the P&O Department had lined up a series of evaluative measures – the Organisational Development Survey on the impact of LO reforms, focus groups meetings with ground officers and informal feedback from commanders, and dialogue through the police intranet.

These techniques, though, can also be seen as a form of control, which Reschenthaler and Thompson (1996) argue that it must be found in the establishment of the learning culture if the change is to be successful. Measuring performance, deciding necessary corrective action and feedback are all forms of control which are also found in the NPF (Huczynski and Buchanan, 1991) and which to a certain extent contributed to the success of implementing learning in the NPF. In spite of these efforts, some officers still felt that the NPF was rushing into new methods without concern for the older generation and less adaptive officers.

According to Bedeian (1980) this is one of the main causes of resistance to change in organisations. Individuals differ in their ability to cope with change, to face the unknown, to deal with uncertainty (cited by Huczynski and Buchanan, 1991). Others, find it difficult to see that the force is able to treat them as valued assets according to the Director of the Logistics Department, and which according to Bedeian (1980) is another main cause of resistance to change – misunderstanding and lack of trust.

To date, the NPF has also been struggling with the question how to create an organisation that implements LO values and at the same time maintains its “machinelike functionality and predictability”. An unexpected barrier to change have also occurred because of impossibility to fully employ incentives and control systems to support the organisational changes (Heracleous and Tan, 2001). Overall, the Asian NPF have successfully managed its transition from bureaucracy to LO.

Officers are “thinking alone ” less and consulting more, decision and actions are less reactive and more purposeful and mission oriented. Because in today’s new global economy companies such as the NPF face new success factors, above all the need for fast and flexible change on the part of organisations. The challenge is the changed environment, the solution could be the LO. However, NPF’s journey in this process is in its early stages and that is the reason why there still are and will be resistance and uncertainty among police officers.

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