chapter  8
16 Pages

What are the key influencing factors for decision-making at the ‘moments of truth’?

ByGeorge Chak Man Lee

One of the areas of focus in this book is to identify the structural/institutional factors (e.g. policies, culture, governance, impact of media, etc.) that may influence ethical decision-making rather than the situational factors (e.g. suspect’s race/class/demeanour, time of day and physical environment, etc.) that affect an officer’s operational street-craft, and which have traditionally been the focus of research in this area. My research found that for China, the effects of government legislations and central directives and the increase of media criticism are key influencers to ethical decision-making. With the rank-and-file officers feeling the effects of the PSB’s target-based performance management system, the lack of an independent complaint investigation/supervision process, and the increased expectation of the Chinese public more so than managers. Junior officers are frustrated by the guanxi-based progression culture and a constant fear of losing their job if they make a mistake (especially if it is caught on camera) or by upsetting a powerful cadre. In contrast, for Indian officers, although they experience similar feelings to the PSB officers regarding the pressures and stresses brought about by their countries’ economic rise, urbanisation, the ubiquitous mobile smart phone and social media, they seem to be less concerned about government policies, laws and regulations or organisational systems but are more influenced by their poor pay and working conditions, frequent political interference in their daily duties and postings, low morale due to these pressures and their organisational culture in their decision-making. The survey and my overall research indicate that factors such as the politicisation of police and the criminalisation of politics and the divide between managers and subordinates means that there is a real risk that Indian officers are more susceptible to the rule by man than their PSB counterparts in ethical decision-making.