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Organizational Stressors Associated with Six Aspects of Police Officer Stress in South Korea

Hyungjin Lim, Jeong L. Kim

Background: As an inevitable social institution, police work should be efficient, effective, appropriate, and legitimate. While studying organizational behavior, during the last five decades, behavioral school of management has found that personal stress has a great impact on individual job performance.

Objectives: To investigate correlations between police officers’ perceptions of organizational job environment assessed by the Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS) along with the Bureaucracy Level Assessment and perceptions of distress symptoms measured by Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI).

Methods: Survey data collected between November 2013 and January 2014 from the Korea National Police Agency including 512 male and female police officers are used in the multivariate analysis.

Results: Female officers showed higher levels of the distress symptom in obsessive-compulsive and interpersonal sensitivity; officers working in suburban/ rural areas displayed higher levels of interpersonal sensitivity and anxiety than counterparts in urban areas; not married officers showed higher level of hostility than married officers; officers in supervisory positions reported higher levels of obsessive-compulsive, interpersonal sensitivity, anxiety, and hostility; finally, officers having longer service years demonstrated a lower level of hostility than officers having shorter service years. Level of education did not show statistically significant influence on police occupational stress. While controlling demographic characteristics and police-community relationships, individual perceptions of bureaucracy level have a more significant impact than police job characteristics on individual perceptions of distress symptoms.

Conclusion: The bureaucratic environment should be changed to allow more discretion and responsibility for field officers, as well as reallocating budget for inadequate staff and poor working conditions. Work redesign which allows field officers to carry out identifiable task with various skills and allows field officers to have more autonomy on their jobs should be followed. In addition, gender discrimination should be eliminated.