Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 45–71 | Cite as

Mobile Technology and Action Teams: Assessing BlackBerry Use in Law Enforcement Units

  • Susan G. StrausEmail author
  • Tora K. Bikson
  • Edward Balkovich
  • John F. Pane


This research explores the effectiveness of mobile wireless information and communication technologies (ICTs) for law enforcement teams. Law enforcement teams require real-time information access and rapid communication to diagnose potential threats, analyze problems, and coordinate actions. To meet these needs, two U.S. law enforcement organizations implemented pilot trials of RIM BlackBerries for approximately 650 squad members. These trials provided an opportunity to assess acceptance, use, and perceived performance benefits of the technology as well as factors influencing these outcomes. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews, user surveys, and system logs. Although the work teams and tasks were similar in the two organizations, the outcomes, while generally positive, differed markedly, with much greater acceptance and use in one organization versus the other. Results show how technical factors, functionality, and implementation processes account for these differences and illustrate how mobile wireless ICT can meet the unique needs for information access and communication in investigative action teams. We expect that these findings will generalize beyond action teams as more mobile workers in a variety of domains adopt wireless handheld technologies.

Key words

action teams BlackBerry CSCW email information and communication technology law enforcement mobile technology technology acceptance technology adoption wireless handheld 



We are indebted to the squad members and managers in each study site who shared their time, knowledge, and experience. Our thanks to Joy Moini, Jennifer Kavanagh, Amelia Haviland, Scott Ashwood, Chris Beighley, and Chris Corey for their contributions to this study and to three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on this article.


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Copyright information

© US Government 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan G. Straus
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tora K. Bikson
    • 2
  • Edward Balkovich
    • 3
  • John F. Pane
    • 1
  1. 1.RAND CorporationPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Rand CorporationSanta MonicaUSA
  3. 3.Rand CorporationArlingtonUSA

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