External Control and Red Tape: The Mediating Effects of Client and Organizational Feedback

Gene A. Brewer, Richard M. Walker, Barry Bozeman, Claudia N. Avellaneda, Gene Brewer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Bozeman's (1993; 2000) external control model of red tape posits that organizations with higher degrees of external control will have higher levels of red tape. According to the model, this effect is compounded by entropy affecting the communication of rules and their results, limited discretion over rules and procedures, and non-ownership of rules. However, the model predicts that red tape will be mediated by communication from clients and within the organization. Bozeman's model is often cited in the literature, but it has not been subjected to comprehensive empirical verification. This study tests the model using data from a multiple informant survey of 136 upper-tier English local government authorities conducted in 2004 and several secondary sources. Statistical results show that external control does indeed lead to higher levels of red tape. We then test a number of organizational feedback mediators and find that client feedback does little to mediate the effects of red tape; the major factors are trust between politicians and public managers and devolved management. We discuss these findings and propose some changes to the model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-314
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Public Management Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Public Administration


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