Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Goodman, Doug

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

MSU Only Indefinitely

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only


Political Science and Public Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Political Science and Public Administration


Much deliberation has existed concerning normative budgetary theory at the local government level. The vast array of local government organizational types precipitates many levels of involvement. However, there is limited evidence concerning the level of involvement of elected officials within the process, nor the amount of influence wielded by administrative actors. In addition, there are lingering questions concerning the extent at which external factors contribute to involvement. This study examines the level of involvement of actors within the budgetary process among the commission-manager form of county governments in North Carolina. The researcher has proposed a three-tier budgetary dichotomy-duality model as a foundation for organizing the study. The three elements of the model consist of institutional characteristics to account for external factors affecting county governments, commissioner characteristics and county manager characteristics. The research questions and hypotheses posited by the researcher examine the relationship between each element of the model and the level of involvement of the actors. This is an exploratory study using quantitative data as the basis for the research. Surveys were mailed to 300 county commissioners and all 100 county managers in the state of North Carolina. There were 126 county commissioner surveys returned along with 84 county manager surveys. In addition, two separate dependent variables were utilized to better determine involvement in the budget formulation process. The data was analyzed using logistic regression analysis. The findings suggest that there are several factors which influence budgetary involvement. Among the institutional factors, unfunded mandates and the size of the budget lead to more involvement by county managers. For county commissioners, older commissioners, especially those who have retired, stated more involvement along with Republican commissioners and those who serve on larger commissions. Experience of the county manager also played a role as more inexperienced managers could expect more involvement by commissioners. Managers stated more involvement if they were primarily responsible for budget formulation, if they identified a particular problem area in budget formulation, and if commissioners actually agreed with most of their budget recommendations. From a public administration standpoint, there is definitely a convoluted line in the politics/administration dichotomy among county governments in the North Carolina county government budget process. It is clear that certain factors and actor characteristics create an atmosphere for increased involvement for some actors compared to others. The budgetary dichotomy-duality model does provide for some residual usefulness in determining levels of involvement for local government actors. If applied to a single government unit during the budget formulation process, it could be determined as to which group of actors has the most influence between the elected officials and the administration.