Occupational stress and burnout remain largely unexplored as red tape repercussions, even though they can jeopardize public servants’ wellbeing, motivation and performance.

Using a survey experiment with 354 school principals conducted between November 2018 and January 2019 in Chile, we provide evidence that red tape foments burnout risks. More red tape increases emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and a sense of low personal accomplishment, while cutting red tape reduces emotional exhaustion but does not attenuate depersonalisation and low personal accomplishment.

These experimental results further prior observational findings about employee responses to red tape and are particularly pertinent for public services struggling with effectively cutting red tape.

Version 3 - updated February 2024

DOI: 10.35489/BSG-PEOPLEGOV-RI_2021/002