Coping with red tape: How cultural, organizational and individual variables mitigate red tape’s negative impact on street-level bureaucrats’ wellbeing.

01 November 2020 → 31 October 2025
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund, Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Human resource management
    • Comparative public administration
    • Public management
Street-level bureaucrats Wellbeing Red tape
Project description

Red tape is one of the biggest challenges confronting contemporary public organizations. Organizational rules that hold a compliance burden, but miss functionality, can be classified as red tape. Recent studies claim that red tape negatively impacts the wellbeing of street-level bureaucrats such as teachers or nurses. But while this claim is backed up by more and more empirical research, the actual impact of red tape on wellbeing differs widely. Currently, the field is at a blank as to what can account for this difference. From the field of contextual human resource management, I hypothesize that variables on the level of culture, organization and the individual can mitigate the relation between red tape and the wellbeing of street-level bureaucrats. Our research objectives are, firstly, to propose - based on academic literature - variables on the level of culture, organization and the individual that mitigate the impact of red tape on street-level bureaucrats’ wellbeing. And secondly, to identify if and how specific variables at these three levels mitigate the impact of red tape on the wellbeing of teachers specifically. This doctoral thesis consists of a systematic literature review and three mixed-methods studies to identify, test and explain these mitigating variables. This research offers a novel approach to the study of red tape and its results help public officials worldwide understand how red tape’s impact can be mitigated.