Are all burdens bad? Disentangling illegitimate administrative burdens through public value accounting

Muhammad Azfar Nisar, Ayesha Masood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite its usefulness for analysing the social equity footprint of policies and documenting citizens’ experiences of accessing social services, the present conceptualisation of administrative burden does not differentiate between necessary and unnecessary administrative burdens. As existing research tends to focus only on negative aspects of administrative burdens, it does not adequately account for their use as a countervailing force to achieve legitimate public values and prevent misuse of public resources. Using a public values accounting approach, this article outlines a framework to analyse the costs and benefits associated with public service delivery. In this formulation, administrative burden conceptualised as the monetary, time and psychological costs experienced by relevant stakeholders are balanced against specific public value benefits that a policy is supposed to achieve. In addition to allowing a more balanced analysis of costs and benefits associated with different policies, this approach helps identify illegitimate administrative burdens, that do not contribute to achieving relevant public values or can be reduced without compromising relevant public values. This approach not only contributes to adding more nuance and dimensionality to the theory of administrative burden but also increases its relevance to policymakers and other stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-403
Number of pages19
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Public Administration
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023


  • administrative burden
  • policy implementation
  • public values
  • word

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration


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