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Politics by numbers? An exploration of councillors’ apparent use of financial information during the budget discussion in Flemish municipal councils

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  • B. BUYLEN

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  • J. CHRISTIAENS

Abstract

Previous studies demonstrate that there is skepticism about politicians’ use of financial information. Although this issue is generally recognized in literature, only very few researchers focused on real use of financial information in political budgeting practice. While many studies discussed various technical and political budgeting aspects (e.g. political budget cycles, reform rhetoric, introduction accrual budgeting ….) the use of financial information in the area of budgeting is often overlooked. This paper contributes to our understanding of financial information use by politicians, especially through its adoption of an innovative method of data collection and - analysis, i.e. categorizing the minutes of budget debates in municipal councils. Politicians’ apparent financial information use is measured by analyzing the presence of financial information in councilors’ contribution during the budget discussion in Flemish municipal councils. Firstly, we bring a quantitative overview of the reference to financial information in the budget discussion. Secondly, we assess the impact of some political and economic factors on politicians’ use. Data are collected from 121 councils’ minutes of the budget discussion combined with interviews of key witness civil servants. Results reveal a predominance of budgetary information in the discussion and significant influence of both political and economic factors.

Suggested Citation

  • B. Buylen & J. Christiaens, 2013. "Politics by numbers? An exploration of councillors’ apparent use of financial information during the budget discussion in Flemish municipal councils," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 13/841, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  • Handle: RePEc:rug:rugwps:13/841
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    File URL: http://wps-feb.ugent.be/Papers/wp_13_841.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Nogueira, Sónia Paula S. & Jorge, Susana Margarida F., 2016. "Explanatory factors for the use of the financial report in decision-making: Evidence from Local Government in Portugal," Revista de Contabilidad - Spanish Accounting Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 216-226.

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    Keywords

    New Public Management; Financial information; Councilors; Budget.;

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