Public Organization Review

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 37–48 | Cite as

The Role of Experience in Prioritizing Adherence to SOPs in Police Agencies

  • Casey LaFrance
  • Jonathan Day


Research has perennially substantiated the belief that experience is a crucial determinant of an officer’s ability to effectively use discretion in making decisions. Officers cite experience as “the best teacher”, and police managers are likely to agree, usually with an anecdote or two about their personal maturation experiences. This study is an attempt to investigate this question with a bit more subtlety. In the following sections, we will: (1) explain the theory behind the discretion-experience relationship we propose, as well as theoretical opposition to this notion, (2) hone in on the perceived importance of agency standard operating procedures as an influence on discretion, (3) demonstrate that the relationship between officer experience and the priority attributed to SOPs is parabolic, and (4) discuss our findings in the context of structural functional organizational theory.


Discretion SOPs Experience Management Organization theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceWestern Illinois UniversityMacombUSA

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