Embedded ethics: Discourse and power in the New South Wales Police Service

Ray Gordon*, Stewart Clegg, Martin Kornberger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we report an ethnographic research study conducted in one of the world's largest police organizations, the New South Wales Police Service. Our research question was, `How do forms of power shape organizational members' ethical practices?' We look at existing theories that propose the deployment of two interrelated arguments: that ethics are embedded in organizational practices and discourse at a micro-level of everyday organizational life, which is contrasted with a focus on the macro-organizational, institutional forces that are seen to have an impact on ethics. Resisting this distinction between the `micro' and the `macro', we build on these two bodies of knowledge to explain ethical change as deeply embedded in power relations that traverse the scale of social action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-99
Number of pages27
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • ethics
  • power
  • practice
  • discourse
  • police organizations


Dive into the research topics of 'Embedded ethics: Discourse and power in the New South Wales Police Service'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this