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Measuring Collaboration in Criminal Justice Problem Solving Projects

NCJ Number
Myra Wall Downing
Date Published
June 2005
123 pages
This study evaluated four criminal justice projects using a collaborative approach to community safety.
Overall the results of the evaluation suggested that criminal justice agencies could collaborate effectively. The findings indicated that all five dimensions of collaboration did not need to be present for a successful collaboration. Specifically, it was discovered that while a shared vision was important, it was not a requirement of successful collaboration. However, the joint development of structure and responsibilities was essential for collaboration, as was trust, a shared authority, and shared decisionmaking. Finally, open and direct collaboration was an important requirement for successful collaboration. The evaluation study focused on discovering the conditions under which criminal justice collaboration either flourished or languished in four criminal justice projects using five dimensions of collaboration as a measurement guide: (1) jointly defined purpose and commitment to work as a team; (2) use of interagency problem solving through the collaboration of roles and responsibilities; (3) balance of authority and mutual responsibility; (4) development and maintenance of formal and informal methods for frequent and flexible communication; and (5) formation of trusting relationships by confronting and resolving conflict. A matrix was developed to guide the coding degrees of collaboration along the five dimensions. A case study methodology was employed that utilized several sources of data, including official documents, interviews with project members, and survey responses of project members regarding their perceptions on the degree of collaboration throughout the planning and implementation of the project. Future research should examine whether collaboration is more appropriate for some types of work over others. Tables, diagrams, appendixes, references

Date Published: June 1, 2005