Constrained by Red Tape: How Managerial Networking Moderates the Effects of Red Tape on Public Service Performance

Petra van den Bekerom*, René Torenvlied, Agnes Akkerman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Extant public management studies examining the management of environmental challenges predominantly concentrate on the management of the erratic dimension of environmental challenges, that is, shocks. Whereas there is strong evidence that environmental shocks can be effectively managed, much less is known about more predictable environmental constraints that, likewise, challenge the organization’s functioning. The present article studies the moderating effects of managerial networking on the negative relation between environmental constraints—that is, red tape—on organizational performance. We hypothesize that red tape negatively affects public service performance. We further hypothesize that “downward,” “upward,” “sideward,” and “outward” managerial networking orientations attenuate the negative effect of red tape on public service performance. The hypotheses are tested on a data set of Dutch primary schools (n = 523), which includes managerial networking and perceived red tape variables as well as objective, independently measured, school performance data. The results show that perceived personnel red tape negatively affects school performance but that perceived general external red tape positively affects school performance. The negative effect of personnel red tape on school performance is attenuated by “outward”-oriented managerial networking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-322
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican review of public administration
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2017
Externally publishedYes


  • environmental constraints
  • managerial networking
  • organizational performance
  • red tape

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