Reacting to a ‘Discovered’ Social Problem Through Organisational Adaptation: Case Studies of Child Sexual Abuse Investigation of Seven New Zealand Police Districts

by Burgering, Wendy Helen

Abstract (Summary)
Organisations operate in an environment buffeted by social change. Child sexual abuse became publicly recognised as a social problem from 1986. The first part of this thesis examines public awareness of, and interest in child sexual abuse, how child sexual abuse arose in New Zealand, the influence of international "moral entrepreneurs" in shaping this recognition and the activities of local "moral entrepreneurs"' including some police officers, in assisting the move of child sexual abuse from the private to the public arena. The second part of this thesis examines organisational change and whether the causes for organisational change are environmentally or managerially driven. Or is it, as this thesis suggests a combination of both. This thesis takes these theoretical arguments and applies them to the process of organisational change that occurred in the New Zealand Police Department, from the development and implementation of the National Abuse Policy for the investigation of child sexual abuse and serious physical abuse. The third part of this thesis examines the interlinking between the main theoretical foci, organisational change and the construction of a social problem. The results of an investigation from key staff, Police and other agency personnel, from seven New Zealand Police Department Districts, interviewed in three waves over a two and a half year period, are reported. The total number of key staff from each wave was 93, 80 and 68. The results of the first part of the thesis is that through effective lobbying by the women's movement and child protection groups child sexual abuse has become a recognised social problem. In the second part of the thesis the following were found to be crucial factors in the shaping of organisational responses to child sexual abuse: The role of middle managers in the implementation of organisational change policies in assigning or not assigning appropriate resources. The role of the top management in the ownership of organisational change policies the procedures. Continual staff turnover and the policy of staff rotation limited the successful implementation and continued support for the National Abuse Policy. This factor, staff turn over and/or rotation, will impact on the success of any organisational change policy. The extent of the training provisions for police officers at all levels within the organisation and the maintenance of that training at a national and district level. Acceptance of the multidisciplinary investigative approach which differed from more traditional policing approaches. The internal and external pressure on the Police to implement and maintain a high profile response in the child sexual abuse field. The results of the third part of the thesis is that the Police Department played a role in the public recognition of child sexual abuse as a social problem and as a result had to implement an operational response through the development of a National Abuse Policy.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Associate-Professor Cluny Macpherson and Dr Charles Crothers

School:The University of Auckland / Te Whare Wananga o Tamaki Makaurau

School Location:New Zealand

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:fields of research 370000 studies in human society 370100 sociology


Date of Publication:01/01/1994

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