The Role of Participation in Budgeting Essay

This essay has a total of 2242 words and 12 pages.

The Role of Participation in Budgeting

The Role of Participation in Budgeting

Introduction

Although participation in budgeting may enforce the managerial performance, it has
constrains and can cause some problems as well. This article analyses the possible
advantages and limitations of the role of participation in budget setting. In the next
section, the possible merits of budgetary participation are demonstrated. This is followed
by a section that explains the equivocation existing in the relationship between budgetary
participation and performance. Then, in the following section, some negative effects on
the application of participation in budgeting progress are illustrated. The final section
is the conclusion of the study.


The Possible Advantages of Budgetary Participation

According to the definition of budgeting, it is the ¡®estimation of all income and
expenses for an accounting period or financial forecasting, planning, and controlling¡¯.
(http://www.yourwebassistant.net/glossary/b11.htm#budgeting)

Comparing the budget with the real achievement of the company, it is possible to improve
the decision-making process for the future development of the enterprise. So budgeting
takes a crucial role in management accounting. Therefore, studying how to make budget
setting more effective is important for the benefit of the enterprise.

Participation in budgeting is one of the useful approaches. It bears some possible
advantages, which may enhance manager¡¯s commitment to budget objectives.

The following discussion (adapted from Lecture notes by Professor S. G. Ogden, 2004) bears
the assumption that there is positive relationship between participation and performance.
The contradictions will be discussed later in the following sections.

First of all, participation in budget setting can inspire the enthusiasm of the managers.
Then they will intend to input more energy and time into the work to meet the budget
targets. Because if they are involved in the process of budget setting, they will link it
with their own knowledge, experience, and so on to make the judgment. This linkage renders
the target of the company to be the participator¡¯s personal target.

Secondly, participation may encourage the creation of the participators. Creation is the
characteristic of human beings. However, not everybody at any time has the motivation to
create. When the budget is settled, and what the managers and employees have to do is just
to meet the budget, they will not care about how to improve the budget, but just focus on
how to achieve the seemly pleasing result.

Thirdly, participation in budgeting could improve the communication between the budgetary
setters and the participators. In fact, no matter to what extent employees involved into
participation, there should be somebody to make the last decision. Then what is the
meaning of participation? The answer is better communication. Application of budgetary
participation could make the thoughts of the employees and junior managers upward to the
budget setters, and at the same time, the aim of the budgeting is passed to the
participators. The involvement makes the participators understand more about the holistic
blueprint of the company, not just the plan for oneself, and at the same time, renders the
budget setters realize the difficulties for the participators to accomplish the budget
objectives. It is good for the harmonious development among different departments,
associates and subsidiaries of the whole company. Otherwise, the unbalanced growth is not
beneficial for the enterprise in the long run.

Fourthly, budgetary participation will make the budget more appropriate, namely,
achievable. Sometimes, the budget is disappointing for employees and managers, as they are
too hard to accomplish. This can cause negative effects on the performance. If people
think that it is impossible to achieve the budget on time, they will either reduce the
quality of the work to just meet the measurement criteria of the performance or do things
even more slowly as if there is no budget at all. Both of the responses are harmful to the
company.

However, when the participators join in the progress of budget setting, they can negotiate
with the foreman to get the suitable budget targets. Anyway, only the employees and
managers are familiar with their production capacities, and hence their suggestions appear
to be more applicable for their specific situations.

There are some empirical evidences to support the argument above, such as Bass & Leavitt
(1963) and Brownell (1982) according to Chenhall and Brownell (1988). However, the
participation in budget setting seems to cause as many problems as it does for solutions.
The problems will be discussed in the following section.


The Equivocation of the Relationship of Budgetary Participation and Performance

In the last part, it is discussed the possible advantages of participation in budget
setting. The reason why it is possible is that, according to the previous theoretical and
empirical studies, the relationship between the budgetary participation and the managerial
performance is ambiguous.

Does budgetary participation really improve the performance? Or are they negatively
related? Is it possible that there is no significant relationship between these two terms?
There is no consensus on this issue, as there are empirical evidences supporting every
perspective. Different researches reached different results. In the article by Chenhall
and Brownell (1988), ¡®results range from strong positive effects of participation on
performance (Bass & Leavitt, 1963; Brownell, 1982), to unclear or insignificant effects
(Milani, 1975; Kenis, 1979), to even negative effects (Bryan & Locke, 1967; Stedry,
1960)¡¯.( Chenhall and Brownell, 1988, pp. 225.)

Two possible explanations for these inconsistent findings are provided as follows.
On the one hand, the effectiveness of participation may relate to the specific
circumstances. (Milani, 1975; Chenhall and Brownell, 1988) Different national cultures,
different environments of the firms, different positions of the participators in the
specific companies, and so on, all kinds of variables (contingency variables) are inclined
to affect the relationship between budgetary participation and performance. That is why
under certain circumstances, the participation¡¯s effect on the outcome is positive,
while under other circumstances is negative. So ¡®the failure to carefully account for
the circumstances in which participation ¡®works¡¯, versus those when it does not,
would explain the variety of results¡¯. (Chenhall and Brownell. 1988. pp. 225.) This
view is regarded as the contingency model view.

One example is the field study by Milani (1975). His study used the sample of the lowest
level foremen at the plant in a large international producer of heavy equipment. His
result was that budget-setting participation related well with attitudes toward the job
and the company, but the relationship with performance is, ¡®at best weakly
supported¡¯. (ibid. pp. 282.) So no answer was given whether participation or
nonparticipation should be adopted in the budget setting. One possible reason of the
ambiguous result is the lack of control of other variables which may affect the validity
of the study. These variables are changed due to the different circumstances of the
company. Another potential reason was the use of one firm. So the result might be just
applicable in this kind of firm.

On the other hand, namely, another possible explanation of the equivocation is that the
effect of budgetary participation on performance is not direct. (Chenhall and Brownell,
1988) That is, there is no study that can support evidence of ¡®simple, direct effects
of participation on job satisfaction or performance¡¯. (ibid. pp. 226.) The relationship
is indirectly related via some intervening variables. This interpretation is regarded as
the intervening variable model. It ¡®contrasts with the contingency model, [and] should
be viewed as entirely complementary to it¡¯.

For example, in the research of Brownell and McInnes (1986), they failed ¡®to confirm
that budgetary participation, through its effect on motivation, enhances managerial
performance¡¯. (pp. 596-597.) Though significant positive relationship was found in the
study between participation and managerial performance, only a small part of this is
caused by the intervening variable of motivation.

Another example is the study of Chenhall and Brownell (1988). They collected the data by
survey questionnaires from 36 middle-level managers of a large manufacturing company.
Continues for 6 more pages >>




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