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Budgeting in the Big Ten Academic Alliance: A Phenomenological Study of the Experiences of College Business Officers

Alecia J Kimbrough, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Higher education budgets have been described as difficult to use (Gibson, 2009; Speck 2010), lacking transparency (McLendon & Hearn, 2013) and unfair to constituents (Sellers-Rubio, Mas-Ruiz, & Casado-Diaz, 2010). College business officers have identified challenges regarding the usability of both centralized and decentralized budget in higher education (Jaschik & Lederman, 2016). This study focuses on one constituent in higher education administration—college business officers—and how they experience the budgeting process. The voices of college business officers are shared as a way to examine the phenomenon of budgeting as they experience it in their daily work lives. The purpose of this phenomenological study is to explore the experiences of college business officers with the phenomenon of budgeting–specifically budgeting usability, transparency, and equity and fairness. It provides insight into how stakeholders are impacted by the budgeting process at academic institutions. Limited empirical research exists that describes linkages between academic budgeting models and the roles of college business offices. This study describes factors that institutions should consider as they evaluate their budgeting process and the roles of college business officers. Resource dependence theory provides the theoretical framework for this study. This study was conducted with participants from Big Ten Academic Alliance institutions. Eight college business officers were interviewed, and institutional websites, budget-related news, and information were reviewed. Lessons learned from this study provide guidance to college business officers regarding how budgeting impacts operations. The findings help college business officers to understand the impacts of the budgeting processes on individuals responsible for operationalizing the budget and help administrators to understand how to facilitate smoother transitions of policy to practice at their institutions. The study reinforces and extends existing literature by building on earlier studies and showing the impacts of budgetary implementation. Finally, the results of the study are helping the researcher to work within the budgeting process at the college and university levels at her own institution.

Subject Area

Higher Education Administration|Educational leadership|Educational administration

Recommended Citation

Kimbrough, Alecia J, "Budgeting in the Big Ten Academic Alliance: A Phenomenological Study of the Experiences of College Business Officers" (2018). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10788759.