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Budgetary practices in a Tanzanian University: Bourdieu's theory

Tausi Ally Mkasiwa (Department of Accounting and Finance, The Institute of Finance Management, Dar es salaam, United Republic of Tanzania)

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management

ISSN: 1096-3367

Article publication date: 14 May 2020

Issue publication date: 13 October 2020




This paper explores budgetary practices in a Tanzanian university after decentralization.


Data were collected through interviews, document analysis, and observation. Moreover, Bourdieu's theory was used in open and axial coding procedures for data analysis.


The findings show that decentralized budgeting was a disillusionment. Administrators failed to transfer financial authority to resource recipients. Budgetary practices were shaped by the social structure/budget cycle (field), resources possessed by budgetary actors (capital) and the sincerity patterns of actors in budgetary practices (habitus). Most resource recipients had insincerity in budgeting habitus deploying subversive strategy, while the minority had sincerity in budgeting habitus, deploying submissive strategy. On the other hand, administrators had sincerity and insincerity in budgeting habitus, deploying conservative strategy.

Practical implications

In order to enhance effective decentralization, resource recipients should be provided with adequate financial resources and budgeting skills. Furthermore, they should be trusted and recognized. Moreover, in order to shape budgeting strategies and practices towards achieving organizational objectives, managements should identify and work on internal, external and technical budgetary constraints. In addition, they should promote sincerity in budgeting habitus as habitus can be created, altered, and reproduced through knowledge.


This is the first paper to investigate budgetary practices in a university setting, employing all Bourdieu's six theoretical concepts. It contributes to Bourdieu's theory by introducing a submissive strategy. In addition, it introduces “episteme” concept as the opposite of “doxa.” Moreover, the paper responds to the call by Deering and Sá (2018) to investigate what guides budgetary practices in a university setting. The paper has also demonstrated the role of approval organs and subordinates which were neglected in prior studies. It proposes a theory of budgetary practice in a University setting when budgeting is decentralized. It thus responds to the call to investigate and theorize the role of actors in calculative practices (such as budgeting) in a University setting (Argento et al., 2020; Aleksandrov, 2020; Grossi et al., 2020; Ozdil and Hoque, 2017).



The author would like to thank the editors and anonymous reviewers for their useful comments and suggestions on earlier versions of the paper.


Mkasiwa, T.A. (2020), "Budgetary practices in a Tanzanian University: Bourdieu's theory", Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 399-420.



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