Participation-Based Budgeting: Defining and Achieving Normative Democratic Values in Public Budgeting Processes

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Achieving public participation is often a goal for public budgeting entities and yet in practice is difficult to accomplish. This study’s purpose centers on three questions: how do public representatives interpret and define their democratic responsibilities; what are their insights regarding opportunities and barriers in participation-based budgeting; to what extent are these goals met? To address these questions, this research employs a case study of a public university budgeting committee; interviews of committee members were conducted; analyses result in a conceptual map of a participation-based budgeting process. Findings reveal that respondents 1) define their mission structurally and procedurally, 2) identify a need ethical behavior and leadership, and 3) recognize that democratic values such as participation and efficiency come into tension with one another. Being open and inclusive comes in the form of the citizen—public administrator dialectic, and it also requires intellectual, ethical and practical engagement with competing democratic values.



Budget, Budgeting, Public Administration, Participatory Budgeting, Higher Education


Rossmann, D. and Shanahan, E. A. (2012), Defining and Achieving Normative Democratic Values in Participatory Budgeting Processes. Public Administration Review, 72:1. 56-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-6210.2011.02480.x
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