Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


B.W. Carroll




This dissertation examines how governments may use results-based budgeting to co-ordinate horizontal policies, and how a country's regime type may affect the incidence and success of such efforts. A rational choice institutional approach is used to frame the relations between "guardian" budget-makers in central budget agencies and "splender" civil servants in line departments. We undertake a quantitative analysis of primary budget documents of selected departments in the federal governments of Canada and the United States, and confirm our findings through a series of interviews with budget-makers, departmental officials and academics in both countries. Our findings suggest that, regardless of regime type, results-based budgeting is rarely used to help co-ordinate horizontal policies, for two main reasons. First, results-based budgeting's potential to co-ordinate is limited by methodological difficulites. In particular, it is often difficult to fully understand the casual theory behind programs and to fully measure all the relevant aspects of programs. Second, the motivation of budget-makers to so use results-based budgeting is limited by political disincentives. In particular, there are many disincentives to publicize the true objectives of programs and to reveal the actual performance of programs. On balance, the theoretical potential of and incentives to adopt "horizontal budgeting" is often outweighed by the practical difficulties and disincentives. This research contributes to existing knowledge of the public administration of expenditure budget-making by highlighting similarities between current budgeting systems in Canada and the U.S. and the program budgeting experiments of the 1960s and 1970s, by exploring the potential and incentives to use results-based budgeting to co-ordinate horizontal policies, and by advancing the research methodology of comparative budgeting studies. Furthermore, by increasing our knowledge of the process of budgeting, we also inform understandings of the contents of budgets, and so inform understandings of the contents of a wide range of policies and programs.

McMaster University Library

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