Why does the level of administrative intensity-the bureaucratic component of the workforce-vary across public organisations? We address this question by developing and testing a model that is derived from structural contingency theory and public choice theory. The results show that administrative intensity is higher in small organisations, in turbulent external environments, and in organisations with big budgets. Furthermore, we find that the impact of organisational size is nonlinear, that large size mitigates the effects of turbulence, and that administrative intensity is a cause as well as an effect of bigger budgets. The theoretical and practical implications of these results are discussed.