Looking Up: Explaining Police Promotional Aspirations
Organizations benefit when employees are motivated and aspiring. Within policing, this is especially important given contemporary philosophies asking officers to take ownership and be proactive. A desire to ascend through the police ranks may inspire greater engagement in the police role. Extant research has noted that promotional aspirations vary among police officers, but unknown at this point are the factors that shape this variation. The current study helps fill this void by analyzing multiple-agency data assessing the impact of demographic, work environment, and organizational factors on patrol officers’ aspirations. The focus is on the importance officers place on being promoted to a higher rank (i.e., valence), as well as their long-term aspirations in terms of projected rank at retirement. The findings reveal that the most consistent predictors are gender, race, education, and experience; job satisfaction; and organizational size. The implications of these findings for police research and practice are considered.