Red Tape: A Review and Assessment of Concepts and Measures


Although there has been a resurgence of interest in red-tape research, much of this research has the limited focus of testing for public-private distinctions and has used a wide range of concepts and measures. In some ways, progress on substantive issues surrounding how to contend with red tape is stymied by the multiplicity of theoretical specifications and operational measures for red tape. Relatedly, the concept of red tape continues to be confounded with formalization. Therefore, this article addresses two key questions: How different are the various theoretical specifications of red tape? To what extent do different measures of red tape and formalization measure the same underlying realities? A theoretical analysis providing an intellectual history of different red-tape concepts used in the extant literature and an empirical examination of several operational measures is carried out for ascertaining construct validity. The empirical analysis for construct validity employs both factor analysis and an approach based on the multitrait-multimethod matrix of correlation coefficients. Our analysis indicates that there has been considerable progress in concept development on red tape in the last two decades, and the red-tape measures based on these concepts show both convergent and discriminant validity with respect to. We also note that much additional work, especially in scale development, remains to be done. Progress on measurement, through careful development of concepts and measurement scales, is essential for better informing public management praxis.


Political Science

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Journal of public administration research and theory