Journal Article

Representative Bureaucracy in Policing: Does It Increase Perceived Legitimacy?

Norma M. Riccucci, Gregg G. Van Ryzin and Cecilia F. Lavena

in Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory

Published on behalf of The Public Management Research Association

Volume 24, issue 3, pages 537-551
Published in print July 2014 | ISSN: 1053-1858
Published online March 2014 | e-ISSN: 1477-9803 | DOI:

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Drawing on the theory of representative bureaucracy, specifically the theory of symbolic representation, we examine whether or not gender representativeness in a police department’s domestic violence unit influences how citizens judge the agency’s performance, trustworthiness, and fairness. To examine this question, we use an online survey experiment in which we vary the representation of female police officers in a hypothetical domestic violence unit as well as the agency’s performance. Results suggest that gender representation does indeed influence the perceived job performance, trustworthiness, and fairness of the agency, as does the agency’s performance. Thus, this study suggests that the symbolic representativeness of the police does causally influence how citizens view and judge a law enforcement agency, and thus in turn perhaps their willingness to cooperate in the coproduction of public safety outcomes.

Journal Article.  6341 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Administration