Organizational Failure and the Disbanding of Local Police Agencies

Source: William R. King, Crime & Delinquency, Vol. 60 no. 5, August 2014
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From the abstract:
Police organizations are a ubiquitous aspect of the landscape of criminal justice in the United States. Yet, little attention has been paid to the failure of police agencies and the consequences of such failure. This article uses structural contingency theory and organizational institutional theory to explore why 31 police agencies were disbanded during the 1990s. The findings indicate that agencies disband because they face significant environmental changes in their contingency and institutional environments. Contingency reasons for disbanding are mostly related to budgetary constraints. Institutional reasons usually involve agencies that engage in behaviors that violate the expectations of powerful sovereigns. Overall, police agencies disband because they cannot adapt to changes in their contingency and institutional environments or they change in inappropriate ways, and their small organizational size does not provide a sufficient buffer against external intrusion from the institutional environment, which results in disbanding.