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Research Note: Public and Private Managers' Perceptions of Red Tape

Hal G. Rainey, Sanjay Pandey and Barry Bozeman
Public Administration Review
Vol. 55, No. 6 (Nov. - Dec., 1995), pp. 567-574
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Society for Public Administration
DOI: 10.2307/3110348
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3110348
Page Count: 8
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Research Note: Public and Private Managers' Perceptions of Red Tape
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Abstract

Do managers in government perceive higher levels of red tape in their organizations than managers in industry? Most people would think so, but organizational researchers have often found that government organizations do not necessarily have higher levels of rule intensity than business firms. If there are higher levels in government, what explains their existence? Hal Rainey, Sanjay Pandey, and Barry Bozeman report on a survey of public and private managers' perceptions of red tape that supports some common assertions about red tape in government but that contrasts sharply with other assertions. The public and private managers differed little on general questions about rule enforcement. Yet the public managers were much more likely than private managers to report that rules constrain the relation between managers' performance and their pay and promotion. The authors assess several explanations of whether and why public managers may create red tape, including a goal ambiguity hypothesis, an insecurity hypothesis, and an expectancy hypothesis. The results show some support for the latter two hypotheses. The results also support the goal ambiguity hypothesis, but among both the public and private managers. The authors ultimately conclude that external rules and laws concerning such functions as personnel and procurement are the most important sources of red tape in government. The authors call for more systematic analysis of red tape, including the use of methods such as those reported here, in support of current reform efforts aimed at reducing red tape.

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