Budgeting in New Zealand secondary schools in a changing devolved financial management environment

Stuart Tooley, James Guthrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose Change in the New Zealand state education system during the 1980s brought about a transfer of responsibility for school financial management from the centre to the school level. The purpose of this paper is to report an investigation of how aspects of this devolved responsibility have been operationalised and managed in a secondary school setting. Design/methodology/approach The empirical study is based on four case studies. Findings The paper concludes that the expectations of an espoused economic-rationalist approach to school-based management have yet to fully permeate into the schools' way of “doing” devolved financial management. Accounting and management technologies have come to be used as a tool of rhetoric and have served a useful, political purpose, although not in the way intended by the reform architects. Originality/value This conclusion raises a question about the administrative reform and whether the consequential outcomes have yielded the espoused efficiency and educational quality gains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-28
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Accounting & Organizational Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Education
  • Financial management
  • New Zealand
  • Public sector accounting
  • Public sector reform
  • Secondary schools


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