Ateneo study crucial to reforms

THE Philippine National Police headed by General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa is fully anchoring its reform programs particularly on training on a recent Ateneo School of Government (ASoG) study which found evidence that personality traits, professional history as well as age and education level are all key factors contributing to strong performance of police officers in Metro Manila.

The PNP in partnership with ASoG conducted the study to map out some of the main factors that both build or erode key leadership qualities and performance in the PNP using both quantitative and qualitative data to examine the four about-mentioned factors as a predictor of performance of the police officers.

A total of 479 members of the National Capital Region Police Office participated in the study which found evidence that personality traits, specifically openness, agreeableness; professional history such as number of transfers, area of assignment and training on managerial skills; as well as age and education level are all factors for strong performance for NCRPO officers.

The results of the study in particular emphasize the importance of training and mentoring components in preparing young officers and recruits for the rigors of service while underscoring the need for a deeper analysis of recruitment and selection policies to ensure that the PNP successfully attracts the strongest candidates with the right leadership characteristics and building blocks for service.

The study called on the PNP to revisit its organizational culture to be more pragmatic and responsive; effectively cascade the positive organizational culture thru change management; strengthen and elevate good subcultures thru effective oversight on leadership and mentoring; adopt strategic human resources policy such as development of an evidence-based competency framework and creation of an academic consortium to study and improve recruitment; and create a central dataset monitoring and informing and monitoring leadership and development policies.

The ASoG study showed that ‘police officers who received managerial skills training, not just operational skills training, have higher likelihood to perform better’ suggesting that purposive leadership development programs like the one being implemented by Gen. Gamboa plays a key role in having more better-performing police officers and men.

This was among the results of the first-ever study on perennial problem on low public perception on PNP performance conducted by the ASoG in partnership with the PNP. The research study titled as “Leadership Study Diagnosing Factors Behind Success and Failure in the Philippine National Police” saw 479 NCRPO officers and men being interviewed by Ateneo researchers.

It said that ‘more assignment transfers for a police officer were associated with a higher likelihood that the police officer would perform better.’

“From a governance perspective, this coheres with the effort to prevent officers from being ‘captured’ through corrupt transactions whose risk tends to increase with more familiarity in an assignment,” said Dr. Ronald U. Mendoza, the Dean of the ASoG which is being run by the Ateneo de Manila University.

“Rotations help to prevent over-familiarization with potentially corrupt elements in any one assignment, and it also provides police officers with the opportunities to exhibit performance and gain more experience in different assignments,” Dr. Mendoza said.

The findings come in the wake of the PNP leadership’s decision to reshuffle many of its officers in the field including those assigned in administrative units like finance, logistics and comptrollerships as well as police operational units and regional, provincial and city/municipal stations who are deemed to be long ‘overstaying’ in their posts.

The PNP in partnership with ASoG conducted a study that mapped out some of the main factors that both build or erode key leadership qualities and performance in the PNP.

“Today, the PNP faces myriad challenges, spanning governance, corruption and national security threats. It is therefore crucial to secure a strong leadership pipeline equipped not only in facing these challenges, but also strengthening policing effectiveness and over-all security sector reforms,” said Mendoza.

The study objectively examined four main factors namely personality traits, organizational culture, demographic profile and professional history as predictor of performance of police officers.

It said that ‘strong performing police officers’—defined as police officers who have received awards and those with zero-cases filed against them —  are more intrinsically driven to succeed rather than be influenced by other individuals, act more independently of others, remain firm on their stance, demonstrate confidence and have lower self-doubt.

It added that more transfers for a police officers were associated with a higher likelihood that the police officer would perform better, thus, the need to push thru with efforts to encourage rotations in different assignments for police officers to prevent them from being ‘captured’ through corrupt transactions whose risk tends to increase with more familiarity in an assignment.

On the other hand, the same study showed that ‘Poor performing police officers’ or those who have legal, administrative and civil cases involving grave offenses such as drugs, robbery-extortion, graft or malversation and human rights violations with no or minimal awards, were not influenced by the organizational culture itself but by the interaction among members of the organization.

“This could be with fellow police officers or their respective leaders. This angle would later be validated during the Focus Group Discussions as officers mentioned the ‘bata-bata’ system’ where senior officers and politicians may try to influence and protect younger officers in an attempt to gain their allegiance and support,” the study showed.

“The less the number of transfers a police officer went through, the higher the chance that the police officer performed poorly,” it said. The study reconfirmed findings that rotation plays a healthy role in staff development. Further explained, it means that due to the minimal opportunity to be assigned to different situations, ‘poor performing police officers’ tended to maintain routinary tasks and operate in their comfort zone, offering little opportunity for leadership growth.

“For years, we have been searching for a clearer answer on the problem of low public perception of PNP, and now we seek the help of the academe to conduct this study,” Gen. Gamboa said as he noted that the study emphasized some of the main factors that both build and erode key leadership qualities and performance of the 205,000-strong police force.