More than pathological formalization: Understanding organizational structure and red tape

Wesley Kaufmann*, Erin L. Borry, Leisha DeHart-Davis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Most research has conceptualized red tape as being a pathological subset of organizational formalization. This article argues that focusing on a single dimension of organizational structure as a red tape driver is unrealistically narrow. Specifically, the article advances hypotheses as to how organizational centralization and hierarchy affect perceived red tape, in addition to formalization. This reasoning is tested using survey data from employees of three local government organizations in the southeastern United States. All three hypotheses are supported: higher levels of organizational formalization, centralization, and hierarchy are associated with more red tape. Open-ended comments also indicate that red tape is not solely perceived as related to formalization. The findings imply that red tape is a multifaceted perception of organizational structure rather than perceived pathological formalization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-245
Number of pages10
JournalPublic Administration Review
Volume79
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • COMMON SOURCE BIAS
  • JOB-SATISFACTION
  • DECISION-MAKING
  • WORK ALIENATION
  • PERFORMANCE
  • BUREAUCRACY
  • IMPACT
  • PERCEPTIONS
  • PREDICTORS
  • COMMITMENT

Cite this