Models of police probationer career progression: preconceptions of the psychological contract

P. Hornby-Atkinson, C. Barrow, L. Connors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This paper discusses findings that suggest disparity between supervisors' and police probationers' models of expected career advancement. Probationer police officers (n=163) from a north-west constabulary and their immediate supervisors were asked to comment on their expectations of each probationer's likely hierarchical advancement within the police force. A number of variables were examined in order to establish which variables, for probationers and their supervisors, predicted expected career advancement. These data suggest disparity between the probationers' model of expected career advancement and that of their supervisors such that probationers regard educational qualifications as most likely to predict future career advancement while supervisors regard the problem-solving skills of probationers as being predictive of career advancement. Specifically it is argued that the probationers appear to operate a rational model of career advancement that is based on the recognition of human capital or ‘universals’ (Smith 1994) such as qualifications and overall performance at assessment. Supervisors, on the other hand, appear to value ‘relational’ and ‘occupational’ (Smith 1994) competencies for predicting career advancement of probationers under their supervision. This disparity is considered in relation to the establishment and maintenance of a coherent psychological contract (Herriot 1992).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-56
JournalHuman Resource Development International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2003


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