Recent studies suggested that the relationship between prosocial motivation and job satisfaction is mediated by relational job characteristics (e.g., job impact and job content). Based on a study of Dutch child welfare professionals, we theorize and empirically assess how red tape negatively impacts the relational job characteristics and job satisfaction of public professionals. Our study shows that the relationship between red tape and job satisfaction is partially mediated by relational job characteristics. Red tape thus decreases the job impact and job contact of professionals, thereby decreasing their job satisfaction. In addition, our study provides additional insight into how prosocial motivation and red tape are jointly related to job impact and job satisfaction. This provides support for the point of view that highly motivated public professionals are more sensitive to burdensome rules and procedures. In this respect, red tape acts as a hindrance stressor that thwarts the realization of prosocial aspirations.

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Journal Public Administration
Steijn, A.J, & van der Voet, J. (2017). Relational job characteristics and job satisfaction of public sector employees: When prosocial motivation and red tape collide. Public Administration, 97(1), 64–80. doi:10.1111/padm.12352