The theory of the budgetary process in an era of changing budgetary roles FY48-FY84

James Malachowski, Samuel Bookheimer, David Lowery

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2 Scopus citations


The dominant theory of the budgetary process Fenno, 1966; Wildavsky, 1964 emphasized stable budgetary roles in the making of incremental choices over time. But while the traditional theory has been unusually successful, at least two major problems have developed over the last decade. First, recent empirical research has reconsidered the role of partisanship in the budgetary process. And second, more recent descriptive analyses of the appropriations process have suggested that the institutional roles identified by Fenno and Wildavsky changed to a considerable degree during the 1970s. What, then, is the status of the traditional theory of the budgetary process? We analyze this question by updating Fenno's analysis of the tie period FY48 through FY84 and examining both the changing nature of institutional roles and the influence of partisanship in the play of those roles over time. The analysis is used to reinterpret the traditional theory—especially the traditional interpretations of the roles of advocate, guardian, and appeals court as well as the influence of partisanship—in light of events that have occurred since the original development of Wildavsky and Fenno's model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-354
Number of pages30
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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