Advancing Interorganizational Crime and Violence Reduction Goals Through a Relational Change Intervention

Date01 June 2022
Published date01 June 2022
Subject MatterArticles
Criminal Justice Policy Review
2022, Vol. 33(5) 455 –479
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/08874034211065996
Advancing Interorganizational
Crime and Violence
Reduction Goals Through
a Relational Change
Erika Gebo1 and Brenda J. Bond1
Effective interorganizational collaboration is deemed essential to comprehensive
crime and violence initiatives but rarely is it empirically assessed. An 18-month
intervention to improve collaboration Comprehensive Gang Model (CGM) locations
was used in this study to examine the impact on increasing community capacity
to address gangs and violence and reducing gang and violence in the community.
Relational coordination theory grounded the collaboration intervention. Results
from the quasi-experimental design showed significant, increased collaboration and
reduction in violent crime in one intervention site. Other crime reduction efforts
were explored as counterfactuals. Matched comparison sites saw no change in the
ability to work together or violence reduction. Study implications are that relational
coordination interventions may facilitate the goal of working better together, but
parallel evaluations for each of the five core CGM strategies are needed to understand
the independent effects of each strategy on gang and violence reduction goals.
criminal justice policy, crime reduction, Comprehensive Gang Model,
interorganizational collaboration
Comprehensive crime and violence reduction approaches bring diverse entities together,
such as criminal justice agencies, social service providers, government units, school
personnel, and community stakeholders, to tackle problems of common interest.
1Suffolk University, Boston, MA, USA
Corresponding Author:
Erika Gebo, Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice, Suffolk University, 73 Tremont Street, Boston,
MA 02108, USA.
1065996CJPXXX10.1177/08874034211065996Criminal Justice Policy ReviewGebo and Bond
456 Criminal Justice Policy Review 33(5)
Scholars have noted that comprehensive criminal justice initiatives are complex, dif-
ficult to evaluate, and when evaluated, success is not often demonstrated (Klein &
Maxson, 2006; Papachristos, 2011). Yet governments as well as public and private
funders are increasingly moving away from single-agency fixes and programs and
shifting toward collaborative approaches to tackle complex social issues (Skogan,
2011). Compounding funding realities is research showing that in communities most
affected by violence, residents are unlikely to support crime and violence reduction
initiatives unless problems are addressed holistically (Chaskin, 1999).
While comprehensive efforts to reduce crime and violence in communities align
with current funding structures and community interests, there must be an understand-
ing of how diverse entities best coordinate and collaborate to reach those shared goals.
Comprehensive initiative policy graphs, logic models, and evaluations of individual
components can help clarify processes and the mechanisms through which goals are
met (e.g., Gravel et al., 2013; Sampson et al., 2013), but interorganizational collabora-
tion is a strategy that undergirds all comprehensive initiatives and needs research
attention. To date, much of the focus of large-scale crime and violence reduction initia-
tives has been to evaluate specific components, like individual programs or solitary
program strategies (e.g., suppression), rather than to directly examine the interorgani-
zational aspects of collaborations themselves.
Coordinating activities among diverse stakeholders are often mandated through
policies and funding streams but doing so is complicated and does not necessarily
translate to impactful, sustainable relational connections among entities. Research
demonstrates that collaboration in interorganizational collaborations (ICs) is complex
and dynamic (Bryson et al., 2015). If collaboration among organizations is successful,
the result should be improvement in outputs and outcomes with the assumption that
the sum of the collaborative effort is greater than any one individual entity. Insufficient
research exists, however, on crime and violence reduction ICs and how to evaluate
their collaboration as a contribution toward shared goals. The Comprehensive Gang
Model (CGM) is an ideal crime and violence reduction IC through which to examine
the collaborative impact. The CGM is a multisectoral initiative that seeks to reduce
gangs and violence through five coordinated strategies. Organizational change and
development is explicitly identified as a core strategy for success, and IC is a critical
component of that strategy. This study pointedly evaluates the outcomes of a quasi-
experimental organizational change intervention focused on collaborative improve-
ment in a CGM initiative. We examine the effect of the intervention on increasing
community capacity for the gang, crime, and violence reduction as well as whether
increased capacity has any measurable effect on crime reduction.
ICs in Criminal Justice
Criminal justice ICs have been in existence since the widely known Chicago Area
Project and similar initiatives in Boston and New York (Marris & Rein, 1967; Miller,
1962; Shaw & McKay, 1942) addressing a range of issues such as community vio-
lence, drug abuse, and child maltreatment. Crime and violence reduction ICs have
proliferated in recent decades with the belief that these issues are too complex for any

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