Law enforcement agencies across the United States are establishing real-time crime centers (RTCCs) at a rapid rate, yet research exploring the decisions to establish them is lacking. This study therefore attempts to fill that void by using a mixed methods approach to examine whether adaptive organizational theories, consisting of contingency theory (Lawrence & Lorsch, 1967; Woodward, 1965), resource dependency theory (Pfeffer & Salancik, 1978), and institutional theory (DiMaggio & Powell 1991; Meyer & Rowan, 1977), can be used to explain a law enforcement agency's decision to set up an RTCC. This cross-sectional mixed methods design comprised two different studies (Study 1 & Study 2). Study 1 consisted of a content analysis of newspaper articles (N = 235) that listed the terms "real-time crime center" or "real time crime center". The content analysis revealed that both resource dependency theory and contingency theory were likely factors for a law enforcement agency's decision to establish an RTCC. Study 2 included interviews of agency leaders of Florida law enforcement departments that had established an RTCC (N = 11) and those that had not (N = 2). A qualitative analysis of the interviews with agency leaders indicates that traditional organizational theories may not fully explain law enforcement agencies' adoption of RTCCs. The interviews partially confirmed the content analysis of newspaper articles while revealing a theme of front-line and mid-management influence on decision-making. This study found that internal lower-ranking "champions," not external forces, are the primary reason law enforcement agencies are establishing RTCCs, a term known as institutional entrepreneurship (DiMaggio 1988; Eisenstadt, 1980). This study is important because it provides a foundation for explaining why law enforcement agencies choose to set up RTCCs, a law enforcement organizational element whose establishment across the United States does not appear to be slowing anytime soon. This study also highlights an aspect of institutional theory not found in the criminal justice literature. Lastly, limitations and future directions for research are discussed.


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Graduation Date





Potter, Roberto


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Community Innovation and Education


Criminal Justice

Degree Program

Criminal Justice


CFE0009215; DP0026818





Release Date

August 2022

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)


UCF Online