A multiple case-study design was used to explore the role of relevance, user involvement, communication, credibility, and information processing in the use of research information in 153 policy and management decisions in 3 Maryland criminal justice agencies: a police agency, a prosecutor's office, and a correctional agency.
The research used cross-classification and regression analysis to assess 14 research hypotheses that involved 17 independent and 11 dependent variables. Results were interpreted using theory-to-case pattern matching. Results supported 11 research hypotheses and partially supported a 12th hypothesis. Two hypotheses were rejected. Themes supported across the three agencies clarified the elements of a possible theoretical model of the process of using criminal justice research. The analysis concluded that the extent to which criminal justice officials use research information in policy and management decisions is affected by the relevance of the research as influenced by the usefulness of the information received, management control exercised by decision-makers, benefits resulting from research use, program advocacy, and the magnitude of organizational change. Findings also indicated that involving practitioners in research activities builds support and commitment for doing research and contributes to more extensive use of research information. Research use is also affected by interpersonal contact and communication between practitioners, perceptions of credibility of research studies and researchers, and many other factors. Tables; footnotes; appended interview instrument, tables, and author resume; and 96 references (Author abstract modified)
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