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






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.

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  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Henk Ter Bogt, 2001. "Politicians and output-oriented performance evaluation in municipalities," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 621-643.
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    3. Berit Adam & Christiane Behm, 2006. "The Use of Budget Reforms to Modernize Governance in German Local Government," Public Money & Management, Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, vol. 26(4), pages 217-220, September.
    4. G. Jan van Helden & Åge Johnsen & Jarmo Vakkuri, 2008. "Distinctive research patterns on public sector performance measurement of public administration and accounting disciplines," Public Management Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(5), pages 641-651, September.
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    6. Giroux, Gary & McLelland, Andrew J., 2003. "Governance structures and accounting at large municipalities," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 203-230.
    7. Stijn Goeminne & Benny Geys & Carine Smolders, 2008. "Political fragmentation and projected tax revenues: evidence from Flemish municipalities," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 15(3), pages 297-315, June.
    8. Vicente Pina & Lourdes Torres & Ana Yetano, 2009. "Accrual Accounting in EU Local Governments: One Method, Several Approaches," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(4), pages 765-807.
    9. Albert Solé-Ollé, 2006. "The effects of party competition on budget outcomes: Empirical evidence from local governments in Spain," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 126(1), pages 145-176, January.
    10. José Caamaño-Alegre & Santiago Lago-Peñas & Francisco Reyes-Santias & Aurora Santiago-Boubeta, 2011. "Budget Transparency in Local Governments: An Empirical Analysis," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1102, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    11. Irvine Lapsley, 2009. "New Public Management: The Cruellest Invention of the Human Spirit?1," Abacus, Accounting Foundation, University of Sydney, vol. 45(1), pages 1-21, March.
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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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    New Public Management; Financial information; Councilors; Budget.;

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