An organizational echelon analysis of the determinants of red tape in public organizations

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)62_Review of books or of software (or similar publications/items)peer-review

68 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1112-1127
Journal / PublicationPublic Administration Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes


This article adopts an organizational echelon approach to the study of red tape in public organizations and argues that the nature and extent of red tape will vary at different levels of the organizational hierarchy. These propositions are tested with a multiple-informant survey using a lagged model. The empirical results across the three organizational echelons sampled indicate modest variations in the levels of perceived red tape and major variations in its determinants. Results from the more senior managers uphold prior research findings and hypotheses on the determinants of red tape. This is not surprising because earlier studies typically sampled senior executives. Yet the lower down the organizational hierarchy one travels, the more red tape officials perceive and the more multifaceted the findings on determinants become. The authors conclude that prior empirical work is likely to have underestimated the extent of red tape in public organizations, and oversimplified its determinants. The implications for theory and practice are discussed. © 2008 The American Society for Public Administration.