The impact of red tape on governmental performance : An empirical analysis

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

103 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-257
Journal / PublicationJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


This study investigates the impact of red tape on governmental performance in the context of English local government. Both the red tape and performance constructs are multidimensional, so relationships between the concepts and their several dimensions are examined in detail. The results show that different types of red tape have varying impacts on governmental performance but that these effects are somewhat weaker than public management theory and conventional wisdom suggest. Moreover, some types of red tape affect some dimensions of performance in surprising ways. For example, internal red tape has limited effects on efficiency but inflicts considerable damage on equity. The results also show that red tape is a subject-dependent concept - known in the literature as stakeholder red tape. We contend that this alternative conceptualization of red tape opens new vistas for understanding the concept and should be explored further. The implications for public management research and practice are discussed.