A New Measure of Red Tape: Introducing the Three-Item Red Tape (TIRT) Scale

Academic Article


  • Much empirical red tape research utilizes the General Red Tape (GRT) scale, which asks respondents to rate the level of red tape on a scale of 0 to 10 (Rainey, Pandey, and Bozeman 1995). Because “popular usage of the term ‘red tape’ requires no precision” (Bozeman and Feeney 2011, 3) and the GRT scale “assumes that respondents understand the terms to which they are responding” (101), evaluating red tape in this way may be theoretically disadvantageous. This article proposes a new measure—the Three-Item Red Tape (TIRT) scale—consisting of three items drawn from previous rules research on rule characteristics to which respondents characterize organizational rules by how burdensome, unnecessary, and ineffective they are. This measure has several advantages over existing measures: it includes several indicators; it does not include the term “red tape”; and it is drawn directly from Bozeman's (1993; 2000) operational definition of red tape. Using structural equation modeling to model survey data from two local government organizations (n = 1,666), this article evaluates the theoretical and empirical validity of this TIRT scale, compares it with the GRT scale, tests its relationship with formalization, which is known as a distinct concept, and addresses implications of this scale on red tape theory.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Borry EL
  • Start Page

  • 573
  • End Page

  • 593
  • Volume

  • 19
  • Issue

  • 4