Semantic Apparatus – Pathology or Inconvenience? A Meta-Analysis of the Impact of Red Tape on People and Organizations

Cited by Lee Sonogan

Cutting red tape and bureaucracy obstacle business concept as a group of scissors making cuts to symbols of government gridlock and regulatory confusion.

Abstract by Rutger Blom, Rick T. Borst, Bart Voorn

Red tape has been viewed as a key concept in public administration for decades and one that can significantly impact the human resource management (HRM) process. Theoretically, red tape is argued to (a) constrain organizational practices, (b) alienate employees from their organization and, ultimately, (c) lower performance. However, there is some debate about how detrimental red tape is, and empirical evidence is mixed. Using a meta-analytic approach, we aggregated findings from previous studies to test the impact of red tape and to assess sources of heterogeneity across studies. The results provide support for the constraining and alienating effects of red tape, although red tape’s impact on performance seems negligible. Furthermore, operationalizations of red tape and study context moderate some meta-analytic correlations. The lack of longitudinal and intervention studies and the use of single respondents remain the key limitations of current research, and therefore, future research is still needed.

Publication: Review of Public Personnel Administration (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

Pub Date: May 31, 2020 Doi:

Keywords: red tape, organizational outcomes, individual outcomes, meta-analysis (Plenty more sections and references in this research article)

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