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A Sensitivity Analysis of Variable-Base Budgeting


  • Robert W. Blanning

    (Vanderbilt University)


In variable-base budgeting an organization's resources are partitioned into two categories, those allocated to decision making and those allocated to implementation, and both sets of resources are further subdivided as necessary---between departments, across time stages, etc. The purpose of the budgeting effort is to maximize an expected return, which depends on that part of the organization's resources allocated to implementation, net of risk, which is reduced by allocating resources to decision making. In a previous paper it was shown that zero-base budgeting, in which substantial resources are allocated to decision making, is optimal only under certain conditions, one of which is that management resources must be costless. Since these conditions seldom obtain in the real world, it seems reasonable to examine the sensitivity of the risk/return performance of a zero-base strategy with respect to deviations from the conditions for which that strategy is optimal. The principal conclusion of the research reported here is that the mesa phenomenon---the relative insensitivity of the outcome of resource allocation decisions in the neighborhood of the optimum---applies to the allocation of management resources as well.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert W. Blanning, 1983. "A Sensitivity Analysis of Variable-Base Budgeting," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(1), pages 65-76, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:29:y:1983:i:1:p:65-76

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