Sensemaking and organising in the policing of high risk situations: Focusing the Swedish Police National Counter-Terrorist Unit
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Specialised policing of critical incidents has previously been underexplored within scholarly research. Simultaneously, this type of policing has been recognised as a highly complex endeavour which hinges on an organisationalability to make sense of uncertainty and external contingencies. To build knowledge on the subject of specialised policing, the present thesis aims to explore processes of sensemaking and organising in the work context of specialised police units dedicated to the policing of high risk incidents. Two research questions have guided the thesis project viz.: 1) what ascribed meanings are coupled to specialised police unit work practice and; 2) how can organising of specialised police units be enacted in a reliable manner. These questions are empirically addressed through four part-studies: Study A amounts to a contextual literature study of previous research on specialised police units and aims at conceptual development of anomenclature describing police specialisation as a professional context. Study B in the thesis examines symbolic meanings connected to specialised police units and how such meanings relate to constructions of occupational identity of police officers working in a specialised police unit. With these studies as a contextual frame, study C within the thesis examines how leadership, management and ICT system within a specialised police unitimpacts organisational reliability and sensemaking during incident management. Finally, study D examines organisational reliability on an interpersonal level during incident management as it entails a study of collaboration between police practitioners conducting an intervention. The thesis employs a mainly ideographic and close practice approach to researchas the empirical examinations are focused upon one specific specialised police unit, namely the Swedish police’s National Counter-Terrorist Unit (NI). Using data collected through interviews, observations and archival sources, the thesis aims to contribute both to organisational developmentand to knowledge development within the scholarly community. In overview, the results of the thesis indicate that specialised policing on a level of ascribed meaning tend to be represented as exceptional, sensational and surrounded by inferences of elitism, machismo and violence. In extent, such representations inform serving police officers occupational identity workeither by spurring identification or dis-identification with prevailing accounts of meaning. On a level of organising, resilient policing of high risk incidents is shown to be dependent on an ability to favour flexibility, both through the organisational frameworks that frames incident management and in interpersonal enactment during task execution. This conclusion challenges day-to-day conceptualisation of specialised police units’ work practice as instrumental applications of coercion.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet , 2013. , 124 p.
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 0281-6768 ; 106
Specialised police units, sensemaking, high reliability organising, organisation, counter-terrorism policing, incident management
Research subject Education
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-79538ISBN: 978-91-7459-699-1OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-79538DiVA: diva2:642473
2013-09-13, Hörsal E, Humanisthuset, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 13:00 (Swedish)
Thunberg, Camilla, Docent
Karp, Staffan, Docent
List of papers