skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 99438 Find in a Library
Title: Administrative Overhead in Municipal Police Departments
Journal: American Journal of Police  Volume:4  Issue:1  Dated:(Spring 1985)  Pages:20-37
Author(s): R H Langworthy
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 18
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper reports the results of an empirical examination of administrative overhead in municipal police departments using Peter Blau's model describing the relationship between administrative overhead, agency size, and agency complexity.
Abstract: Administrative overhead is defined as resources devoted to activities not directly producing organizational outputs, principally supervision or vertical overhead and administration or horizontal overhead. A brief review of previous studies on police administrative overhead focuses on their conflicting results and methodological shortcomings. Blau's model is described and applied to data collected by Elinor Ostrom in a survey of all police agencies serving populations living in 80 Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas selected randomly to represent medium-sized metropolitan areas wholly contained in a State. Of the total sample of 106 central city police agencies, 96 were sufficiently described for inclusion within this study. In this model, agency size is the number of employees, vertical overhead is the proportion of officers who rank sergeant or higher, horizontal overhead is the proportion of employees not assigned to provision of direct or auxilliary services. Agency complexity is measured to reflect the division of labor in the organization. Analysis with this model suggests that police organizations are somewhat different from other governmental bureaucracies. Consequently, classical organizational theories regarding economics of scale may not be applicable to police agencies. The results indicate that agency size has little effect on overhead and that efforts to achieve administrative economy should not focus on the benefits associated with large scale organization. Finally, this study discovered that the two types of overhead performed quite differently. Thus, any examination of agency overhead must be sensitive to the type of overhead under scrutiny. Tables, footnotes, and approximately 20 references are included.
Index Term(s): Cost analysis; Economic models; Municipal police; Police expenditures; Police management
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.