Brass Satisfaction: Identifying the Personal and Work-Related Factors Associated With Job Satisfaction Among Police Chiefs

AuthorWilliam R. King,Patrick Q. Brady
Published date01 June 2018
Date01 June 2018
Subject MatterArticles
untitled Article
Police Quarterly
Brass Satisfaction:
2018, Vol. 21(2) 250–277
! The Author(s) 2018
Identifying the Personal
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DOI: 10.1177/1098611118759475
and Work-Related
Factors Associated
With Job Satisfaction
Among Police Chiefs
Patrick Q. Brady1
William R. King2
Despite job satisfaction being among the most commonly studied constructs in the
organizational behavioral literature, few studies have examined predictors of job
satisfaction among police officers. Even more, much of the stress and policing
literature has focused primarily on frontline officers. As a result, less is known
about the development of work-related attitudes among police administrators.
The present study used a sample of 315 police chiefs to identify the personal and
work-related factors associated with job satisfaction among police chiefs. Findings
indicated that organizational factors, such as the size of the organization and chiefs’
overall commitment to their organization, were the two strongest predictors of job
satisfaction. Implications and future avenues of research are discussed.
job satisfaction, police administration, police chiefs, organizational commitment,
police families
1Department of Criminology, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA, USA
2Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX, USA
Corresponding Author:
Patrick Q. Brady, Department of Criminology, University of West Georgia, 1601 Maple Street, Carrollton,
GA 30118, USA.

Brady and King
Policing is a career that can be both rewarding and distressful. On any given
day, officers can save someone’s life on one call and take another’s on the next.
Decades of policing research has been dedicated to identifying the causes and
consequences of stress, or whether policing is inherently stressful or more stress-
ful than other occupations (Abdollahi, 2002; Kirkcaldy, Cooper, & Ruffalo,
1995; Violanti & Aron, 1993). Notably absent from the conversation are dis-
cussions about the aspects of policing that bring satisfaction to officers.
Understanding the underlying mechanisms of job satisfaction (JS) can not
only help with officer retention but also boost officer morale and commitment
to their profession by reminding them of aspects that bring them satisfaction
with being a police officer (Allisey, Noblet, Lamontagne, & Houdmont, 2014;
Brough & Frame, 2004; Brunetto & Farr-Wharton, 2003).
According to Locke (1976), JS is defined as “. . .a pleasurable or positive
emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one’s job or job experiences”
(p. 1304). JS has been a popular area of study in the management and organi-
zational psychology literatures. Spector (1997) claimed that “[job satisfaction] is
the most frequently studied variable in organizational behavioral research”
(p. 1). Indeed, a recent keyword search on “job satisfaction” from the
PSYCINFO database in May 2017 revealed over 41,575 articles and mono-
graphs, which is nearly 7 times more studies than the 6,000 reported in
Jayaratne (1993).
To date, however, only a handful of studies have explored JS among law
enforcement personnel (Brunetto & Farr-Wharton, 2003; Dantzker & Kubin,
1998; Howard, Donofrio, & Boles, 2004; Ingram & Lee, 2015; Johnson, 2012;
Zhao, Thurman, & He, 1999). Most of these have focused primarily on JS
among frontline officers, while some studies have used sampling frames of offi-
cers in specialized assignments, such as school resource officers (Rhodes, 2015),
community-oriented policing officers (Halsted, Bromley, & Cochran, 2000),
conservation officers (Eliason, 2006), and midlevel police managers (Ercikti,
Vito, Walsh, & Higgins, 2011). Far less is known about the factors associated
with JS among law enforcement executives, particularly police chiefs.
JS is an important work-related attitude to study among police chiefs, as
previous studies have linked it to productivity, officer receptivity to change,
(Bowling, 2007; Burke, Shearer, & Deszca, 1984; Cohen & Golan, 2007;
Jaramillo, Nixon, & Sams, 2005; Matz, Woo, & Kim, 2014; Pelfrey, 2007). To
our knowledge, however, no study to date has examined the personal and work-
related factors associated with JS among police chiefs. This is problematic con-
sidering police chiefs have a demanding responsibility to ensure the efficiency
and effectiveness of one of the most important and visible municipal agencies in
every community. More importantly, research has shown that the attitudes and

Police Quarterly 21(2)
leadership styles of police supervisors influence the attitudes and behaviors of
their subordinates (Ingram & Lee, 2015; Krimmel & Lindenmuth, 2001; Sarver
& Miller, 2014).
Previous studies have linked JS among police personnel to personal (e.g.,
education and tenure), operational (e.g., work-family conflict [WFC], job
stress), and organizational correlates (e.g., collegial support and burnout;
Burke et al., 1984; Howard et al., 2004; Jaramillo et al., 2005; Johnson, 2012;
Zhao et al., 1999). However, less is known about the major determinates of JS
among police chiefs. Given that police chiefs are responsible for shaping the
work environment, they may be able to manage organizational stressors more
effectively than frontline officers or other employees who are bound to policies
and procedures within a paramilitary, bureaucratic structure. As a result, police
chiefs may enjoy higher levels of JS than their subordinates.
The purpose of the current study is to use a multidimensional analysis to
isolate the key personal, operational, and organizational characteristics associ-
ated with JS among police chiefs. We begin with a brief overview of the litera-
ture on JS, including the personal and work-related factors that have been found
to influence JS among police personnel. Next, findings are presented, and we
conclude with a discussion of the practical implications and avenues for future
Job Satisfaction
To date, a uniform definition of JS has not come to fruition. Locke (1976)
defined JS as “. . .a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the
appraisal of one’s job or job experiences” (p. 1304). Others have defined the
construct as “. . .simply how people feel about their jobs and different aspects of
their jobs” (Spector, 1997, p. 2). Scholars have argued that JS is the product of
the juxtaposition of individual and work-related characteristics (Johnson, 2012;
Zhao et al., 1999). Indeed, Locke (1976) noted that job dissatisfaction stems
from a discrepancy between the realities and expectations of one’s job respon-
sibilities. Thus, it is important to use a multidimensional analysis to understand
how the personal and work-related factors influence the development of JS
among police chiefs.
The dearth of information on JS among law enforcement executives is par-
ticularly problematic, considering previous studies have shown that higher levels
of JS positively impact work-related outcomes (Yang, Yen, & Chiang, 2012;
Zhao et al., 1999) and officers’ personal lives (Howard et al., 2004; Singh &
Nayak, 2015). Previous studies have found a direct negative relationship
between WFC and JS (Howard et al., 2004; Singh & Nayak, 2015). JS has
also been found to be associated with recruitment and training strategies
(Loo, 2004), worker productivity (Bowling, 2007; Judge, Thoresen, Bono, &
Patton, 2001), receptivity to change and supporting new policing innovations

Brady and King
(Pelfrey, 2007), and absenteeism (Cohen & Golan, 2007). More importantly, JS
has been associated with OC and turnover behaviors (Jaramillo et al., 2005;
Matz et al., 2014). Mowday Using a sample of 150 Florida police officers
from six agencies, JS was found to be the strongest predictor of OC
(Jaramillo et al., 2005). In a recent meta-analysis of 13 studies of turnover
intentions, low JS was ranked the second strongest predictor of turnover
among law enforcement officers (Matz et al., 2014).
It is important to note, however, that much of the research on the correlates
and consequences of JS among policing officials has used sampling frames of
rank-and-file officers (Zhao et al., 1999). Previous management, psychological,
and criminological studies have focused primarily on understanding how
employee demographics relate to JS (Buckley & Petrunik, 1995; Jayaratne,
1993). Fewer studies have assessed how the work environment, in addition to
employee demographics, influences employees’ satisfaction (Herzberg, 1968;
Johnson, 2012; Regoli, Crank, & Culbertson, 1989; Zhao et al., 1999). For
example, Johnson (2012) noted that JS is a construct shaped by the juxtaposi-
tion of individual, operational, and organizational characteristics. To under-
stand how to improve JS among police officers overall, more research is
needed to identify factors associated with JS among those who shape
the work environment: police chiefs. Toward that end, we seek to identify and
isolate the individual, work-related, and organizational factors associated with
JS among police chiefs.
Personal Characteristics
Studies exploring individual-level correlates of JS among police officers have
focused primarily on the individual demographics of the employees, their per-
sonality characteristics, their career characteristics, and factors associated with
their life outside of work (Howard et al., 2004; Johnson, 2012; Miller, Mire, &
Kim, 2009;...

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