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A systems approach to leadership development in the Dubai Police : using soft systems methodology (SSM)

Alzaffin, Mohammad


Mohammad Alzaffin


Jennifer, 1953 Wilby


The Dubai Police, striving to meet the needs of one of the most rapidly developing communities in the world, found themselves struggling to satisfy the needs of an expanding and increasingly diverse population as well as dealing with the expectations within the force from high-qualified officers who had benefited from education in the most modern universities.

Seeking to improve the service to all stakeholders, HE the Commander-in-Chief introduced the concept of Total Quality Management. The introduction and continuing application of Total Quality Management was undertaken by an over-arching general department dedicated to Total Quality together with the introduction of experts into every general department. Unfortunately, the benefits were not as universal or as consistent as had been hoped. It was thought blocks to progress arose from the rigidity of the hierarchical and militaristic style of leadership prevalent in the force. A leadership style more inclusive of officers at all level was needed, one which was also alive to the expectations of external stakeholders, the residents, visitors and executives of business interests in Dubai.

The researcher was asked to study how leadership operated in the Dubai Police, how leaders viewed progress in Total Quality Management among their peers and subordinates and how subordinates assessed their immediate superiors’ performance as leaders. To this end, 31 semi-structured interviews provided data for qualitative analysis and 475 respondents completed a questionnaire for quantitative analysis. The interviews revealed great respect for the military traditions of the Dubai Police, pride in progress made in Total Quality Management to date, an acknowledgement that this had been uneven and of the existence of pockets of resistance, results borne out of the responses to the questionnaire. Subjects were keen to improve the situation but had not embraced the latest management techniques available, tending to use reductionist methods to solve problems.

The researcher was requested to explore the benefits of holistic systems thinking to liberate consideration of problems and blocks to further progress in Total Quality Management. The Dubai Police were advised that systems thinking has advantages over older methods as it involves consideration of all aspects of a problem as a whole, including the interest of all stakeholders, leading to more satisfactory solutions of wider application. Among its advantages are the broader spectrum of investigation called for the greater involvement of subordinates so that a much more detailed (richer) picture can be obtained. The Dubai Police were therefore recommended to employ Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) as a means to achieving flexibility in leadership, deeper involvement of lower tiers of management in planning and quicker reaction to changing crime patterns. The Dubai Police should study western policing methods more deeply and invoke local universities in further research. The research indicated the Dubai Police needed to be more attuned to global development in policing attitudes and techniques.


Alzaffin, M. (2015). A systems approach to leadership development in the Dubai Police : using soft systems methodology (SSM). (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date May 4, 2018
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Business
Public URL
Additional Information Business School, The University of Hull
Award Date Feb 1, 2015


Thesis (8.4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2015 Alzaffin, Mohammad. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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