Occupational stress and burnout remain largely unexplored as a red tape repercussion, despite the fact that they can jeopardise public servants’ wellbeing, motivation and performance.

Using a survey experiment with 354 public service managers 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 it reduces emotional exhaustion and depersonalisation but does not attenuate 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.

DOI: 10.35489/BSG-PEOPLEGOV-RI_2021/002