Being consistent matters: Experimental evidence on the effect of rule consistency on citizen red tape

Wesley Kaufmann*, Alex Ingrams, Daan Jacobs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

A growing stream of research in public administration is concerned with how red tape and administrative burden affects citizens. Drawing on the procedural fairness literature, we argue that the consistent application of rules reduces perceived red tape. We also hypothesize that red tape perceptions are affected by outcome favorability and that an interaction effect exists between consistency and outcome favorability. Our reasoning is tested with a survey experiment in the context of a federal jury duty summons procedure, and administered to a sample of U.S. citizens through TurkPrime. The statistical results support our hypotheses; perceived red tape is lower if rules are applied consistently and if citizens receive a favorable outcome. We also find that consistently applying a procedure reduces perceived red tape further when citizens receive a favorable outcome. The implications of these findings for research and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-39
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Review of Public Administration
Volume51
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • jury service
  • outcome favorability
  • red tape
  • rule consistency
  • survey experiment

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