Seal, William and Ball, Amanda
Interpreting the dynamics of public sector budgeting: a dialectic of control approach
Financial Accountability & Management, 27, (4), . (doi:10.1111/j.1468-0408.2011.00531.x).
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Developing a dialectic of control theoretical framework, the paper shows how the theory may be applied to explain turbulence in public sector budgeting. Applying the framework to fieldwork research in two large UK local authorities, the study explores the knowledge and intentionality of actors engaged in budgeting. Focusing on a crisis in educational funding, cognitive issues based around unreliability of cost and planning data were significant factors behind tactical successes for local budgetees. Central government, however, was able to exert power through its ability to change the rules, leading to new structures for public education provision. The dialectical framework avoids the reductionism and functionalism that characterises some of the budget gaming literature and also has potential implications for interpreting step changes in public funding
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