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A strong structuration view on the evolution of budgeting: the case of an English University

Abdaless, S. (2019) A strong structuration view on the evolution of budgeting: the case of an English University. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00085430


English Universities are expected to be more efficient and effective in an environment that is changing continuously. Understanding the perceptions of the multiple stakeholders involved in budgeting and the way they use it is proving to be vital to successfully achieving an efficient and effective university. As one of the main channels used to implement the change, budgeting has itself been, not only shaping the university, but also being changed in the process. There has been a considerable interest in the literature in understanding how budgeting is influenced by the institutional environment and how it is used as a result of these pressures. However, this study addresses the specific question of how budgeting evolves, influences and being influenced, during times of strategic change in universities. This research sits within the Interpretivist paradigm and makes use of a qualitative single case embedded study. The main data collection methods are semi-structured interviews with key personnel involved in budgeting (budget holders, management accountants and senior managers) and documentation. This study contributes to theory as follows: it applies Strong Structuration Theory to a changing English university which enables an in depth understanding of the multiple facets of budgeting in light of its institutional environment. This study demonstrates that budgeting is a social system that produces and reproduces through interaction between the agents (people involved in budgeting) and its structural properties. The findings related to the role of budgeting as structure of signification, domination and legitimation are in line with previous studies. However, this study sheds light on the internal legitimacy aspect of budgeting and the primacy of domination in the case of Magnolia. This study has made the following contributions to the literature: i. The role of agency in the change process is evident and is captured alongside the change to budgeting’s structural properties using the Strong Structuration theory framework; ii. budgeting’s structural properties have changed primacy during organisational change. It was noted that the exercise of domination through the centralisation of allocative and authoritative resources has become more dominant than its legitimation and communication properties. iii. budgeting is not only used for inter-organisational legitimacy purposes as it appears in all previous studies; instead, it is found to be a significant tool for intra-organisational legitimacy; iv. budgeting at Magnolia was demonstrated to be multifaceted, which was not captured in previous studies on budgeting in the European public sector context.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Yang, J.
Thesis/Report Department:Henley Business School
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Henley Business School > Business Informatics, Systems and Accounting
ID Code:85430
Date on Title Page:2017


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