University of Illinois at Chicago
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Organizational Red Tape: A Measurement Experiment

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journal contribution
posted on 2014-08-07, 00:00 authored by Mary K. Feeney
Multiple public administration survey research projects have asked respondents to assess the level of red tape in their organizations. Many of these surveys use the following questionnaire item: If red tape is defined as “burdensome rules and procedures that have negative effects on the organization’s effectiveness,” how would you assess the level of red tape in your organization. Unfortunately, no research has tested the ways in which the language used in this item may bias responses. This research uses data from a 2010 national survey of 2500 local government managers in the United States to test three variations of the Organizational Red Tape scale, investigating whether or not there is variation in perceived organizational red tape based on the question wording. The findings from this research contribute to the red tape literature by providing empirical evidence that the definition used in the Organizational Red Tape scale, a commonly used questionnaire item in public administration research, influences responses about red tape perceptions.


The collection of the data used in this paper was enabled through financial support provided by the Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement (IPCE) at the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Publisher Statement

This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Feeney MK. Organizational Red Tape: A Measurement Experiment. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. 2012;22(3):427-444. DOI: 10.1093/jopart/mus002 is available online at:


Oxford University Press


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