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Revising the budgeting model: challenges of implementation at a university

Staci A. Kenno (Department of Accounting, Goodman School of Business, Brock University, St Catharines, Canada)
Barbara Sainty (Department of Accounting, Goodman School of Business, Brock University, St Catharines, Canada)

Journal of Applied Accounting Research

ISSN: 0967-5426

Article publication date: 13 November 2017




The purpose of this paper is to review the challenges of implementing a new activity-based budgeting model in a university setting.


The authors have conducted heuristic inquiry and content analysis to provide an in-depth examination and overview of the process of budget change at a not-for-profit institution.


Despite attempts to design a process where resource allocation is guided by principles of revenue generation, cost attribution, measures of quality and fit with strategic plan, overarching issues such as complexities of implementation and a lack of continuity of key personnel made it difficult to implement a new budgeting system.

Research limitations/implications

As it is a single case study, there may be some concerns regarding reliability and replicability. Subsequent work on a larger scale may mitigate some of these concerns.

Practical implications

The study demonstrates the challenges of implementing a new budgeting system where strategic choices may differ from revenue generating opportunities and when there has been significant turnover in personnel. The authors provide a perspective on how budgeting can be used to support an organization’s mission in addition to supporting revenue generating prospects, the empirics reinforce the implementation challenges and the need for continuity of key employees to implement change effectively.


The study suggests a new approach to incentive-based budgeting where resource allocation is informed by a number of activities (revenue generation, cost attribution, fit with strategic goals and quality of programs). It is not formula-driven and it stresses the importance of judgment to determine final resource allocation. Furthermore, the authors provide some support for the change management literature for implementing change in a complex organization.



The authors would like to thank participants at the Management Accounting Research Group (MARG) Conference and at the Goodman School of Business Luncheon Speaker Series, as well as James Heap, Joanne McKee, two anonymous reviewers and the Editor for their assistance in preparing this manuscript. The Brock/CPA Ontario Research Excellence Centre provided financial support for this project. All errors remain the responsibility of the authors.


Kenno, S.A. and Sainty, B. (2017), "Revising the budgeting model: challenges of implementation at a university", Journal of Applied Accounting Research, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 496-510.



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