This article tests two competing theories of system development referred to here as environmental and institutional models. These models form the basis for most explanations of why systems are developed and utilized. We will examine both models in detail and apply them to a single set of data concerned with the emerging national computerized criminal history system (CCH). A hybrid model, which combines elements of environmental and institutional approaches, is also developed and tested. A substantive result of this new model will alter our understanding of why a national CCH system is being developed. At the theoretical level, we conclude that a hybrid model is more powerful than either an environmental or an institutional model taken separately and that future research must take this into account.
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