Research event

Administrative burden. Policymaking by other means

A presentation by Donald Moynihan (Georgetown University and Oxford University).
This event is part of the Research Colloquium on Innovation in the Public Sphere.

Bureaucracy, confusing paperwork, and complex regulations—or what public policy scholars Pamela Herd and Donald Moynihan call administrative burdens—often introduce delay and frustration into our experiences with government agencies. Administrative burdens diminish the effectiveness of public programs and can even block individuals from fundamental rights like voting. In Administrative Burden, Herd and Moynihan document that the administrative burdens citizens regularly encounter in their interactions with the state are not simply unintended by-products of governance, but the result of deliberate policy choices. Because burdens affect people’s perceptions of government and often perpetuate long-standing inequalities, understanding why administrative burdens exist and how they can be reduced is essential for maintaining a healthy public sector. 

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Donald Moynihan is the McCourt Chair at the McCourt School of Public Policy, and a visiting fellow at Oxford University. His research examines public sector performance, employee behaviour, and the administrative burdens citizens encounter in their interactions with government. Moynihan has presented his research on public sector performance to policymakers at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In 2014, Moynihan was awarded the Kershaw Award, which is provided every two years by Mathematica and the Association of Public Policy and Management to one scholar under the age of 40 for outstanding contributions to the study of public policy and management. Journal articles Moynihan has authored have won awards from the Public and Non-profit Division of the Academy of Management (2002, 2017), the American Review of Public Administration (2003), Public Administration Review (2007), and Public Administration (2013). Public Administration Review also selected two of his articles on leadership and motivation among the 75 most influential papers in its 75-year history.

Lunch will be served. Prior registration is not required.


The colloquium brings together Hertie School’s research community in the areas of Organization, Management and Leadership and offers a forum for debating research on key issues of public management and governance with an interdisciplinary audience.