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Productivity in the Workplace: Cops, Culture, Communication, Cooperation, and Collusion

Laura Langbein and Connie Jorstad
Political Research Quarterly
Vol. 57, No. 1 (Mar., 2004), pp. 65-79
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. on behalf of the University of Utah
DOI: 10.2307/3219835
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3219835
Page Count: 15
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Productivity in the Workplace: Cops, Culture, Communication, Cooperation, and Collusion
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Abstract

Both formal theory and experimental evidence have shown that repeated interactions among actors foster norms of trust and cooperation. But real-world empirical evidence regarding the substantive effects of repeated interaction is scant and fails to disentangle the components of "social capital." Using data from a 1994 survey of urban police in three Caribbean countries, clustered by police stations, we regress measures of time spent on police work and of propensity to use excessive force on individual and aggregate-level measures of norms and communication and a size-related measure of opportunities for repeated interaction. We control for monitoring by superiors, task, experience, gender and other variables. We anticipate non-independent observations within police stations and heteroscedasticity between as expectations from the theory of social capital rather than simple statistical nuisances. Face-to-face communication at the individual and police-station level, norms at the individual and station level, and opportunities for repeated interaction, contribute to increased work effort by individual officers, and to reduction in their propensity to use excessive force. Monitoring by superiors has no impact on productivity, and may actually have an adverse effect on excessive force. "Social capital" is simultaneously an individual and aggregate phenomenon. In the presence of pro-social norms, social capital "trumps" monitoring as an effective tool of management. Fostering social capital among peers may reduce monitoring and other transactions costs within organizations, making them relatively more cost effective.

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