Robotic Bureaucracy: Administrative Burden and Red Tape in University Research

Barry Bozeman, Jan Youtie

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    37 Scopus citations


    This Viewpoint essay examines university research administration and the use of software systems that automate university research grants and contract administration, including the automatic sending of emails for reporting and compliance purposes. These systems are described as “robotic bureaucracy.” The rise of regulations and their contribution to administrative burden on university research have led university administrators to increasingly rely on robotic bureaucracy to handle compliance. This article draws on the administrative burden, behavioral public administration, and electronic communications and management literatures, which are increasingly focused on the psychological and cognitive bases of behavior. These literatures suggest that the assumptions behind robotic bureaucracy ignore the extent to which these systems shift the burden of compliance from administrators to researchers.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)157-162
    Number of pages6
    JournalPublic administration review
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Public Administration
    • Marketing


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