Decision-making in the police work force: Affordances explained in practice

Matthijs Verhulst, Anne F Rutkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Studies of decision-making in High Reliability Organizations as supported by Information Technology have mostly pertained to the “cold” context, that is, the planning and briefing tasks that precede intervention. Meanwhile, the degree of elasticity required of High Reliability Teams during critical processes is key to stabilizing team performance and can be enhanced through the use of technology. However, off-the-shelf technologies are often used in organizations without due consideration of their impact on task interdependence and affordance. This article presents the results from a three-step explorative field study that investigated the effects of the imbrication between human (e.g., users) and material (e.g., technology) agencies on the decision-making processes used by a police force. Particularly, we address the impact on the individual, collective, and shared affordances of mobile technology (i.e., smartphone) in terms of the daily work routine of officers on the streets. Teams of police officers were shadowed during their daily work for a period of 80 hours. This article presents the findings in the form of four vignettes. The approach used proved useful for determining the affordance of technology in relation to task interdependence on micro-processes and decision-making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)827-852
JournalGroup Decision and Negotiation
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • group support systems
  • sociomateriality
  • affordances
  • constraints
  • imbrication
  • collaborative technology
  • high reliability organizations


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