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Organizing for Change in a Criminal Justice Technology Development Agency

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2000
377 pages
This document examines the technology development efforts of a Federal criminal justice research agency during two different organizational phases.
The two organizational phases, as the National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice (NILECJ) from 1969 to 1980, and as the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) from 1992 to the present, are treated as separate organizations in this study. An embedded single-case study was employed. The goals of the study were to establish (1) whether there are substantial differences between the two organizations; (2) whether the modified second organization was more effective than the first; and (3) whether the identified differences, if any, are sufficient to explain variations in organizational effectiveness. The study identifies six key subsystems in any organization: the goals, formal structure, technology, informal norms and processes, environment, and the interactions of these subsystems. Results show that during the NILECJ period the technology program lacked support both within and outside the organization. Constantly changing leadership, missions, and goals made it difficult to develop or maintain a coherent vision or process. Support from the leadership of NIJ’s parent organizations (Office of Justice Programs and Department of Justice) and Congress compensated for much of the instability inherent in the growth of the technology program during the NIJ period. A key element of NIJ’s success was its clarity and consistency of vision, mission, and goals. Cooperation between the social and physical science programs is an important goal, despite the problems of co-existing within a single organization. A nonpartisan political posture is critical for organizations of this type. 19 figures, 3 tables, 167 references, 10 appendixes

Date Published: February 1, 2000