Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Criminal Justice

Degree Program

Criminal Justice, PhD

Committee Chair

Hughs, Thomas

Committee Member

Swarts, Kristen

Committee Member

Hippert, Dennis

Committee Member

Higgins, Ethan

Author's Keywords

policing; criminal justice; social undermining; job satisfaction; police


Policing is a large and critical part of the American criminal justice system. Although a focal study group for research, little is known of how social undermining impacts police officers and organizations. Social undermining can cause a variety of negative consequences, including lower job satisfaction, reduction in work-related outcomes, and mental and physical health problems (Duffy et al., 2002; Hershcovis & Barling, 2010; Sabeen & Arshad, 2019). To date, no study has examined social undermining in police officers within the United States. This qualitative research examined social undermining among police officers. Using a blend of inductive and deductive thematic analysis, the research questions are answered. The sample included fourteen police officers from across the United States who were in leadership positions. The research questions examined: (1) do police officers experience social undermining, (2) how does undermining affect police officers, (3) how do police officers address social undermining, and (4) how do police officers believe police organizations should address undermining. The data was collected using semi-structured interviews. The results found that every officer had been a target of undermining or witnessed others being targeted. Officers experienced a variety of well-being and work-related outcomes. Participants provided examples and suggestions on how individuals and organizations could address social undermining. Future research should utilize a larger and more diverse sample, especially examining how gender may influence social undermining. Similarly, a sample that contains a wider range of officers, from cadets to patrol officers to administrators, should be studied. Researchers should also utilize a mixed method to find trends of social undermining.