Theorizing about Public Expenditure Decision-Making: (as) if Wishes were Horses . .

Downs, George; Larkey, Patrick
November 1979
Policy Sciences;Nov1979, Vol. 11 Issue 2, p143
Academic Journal
There have been several attempts to compare different approaches to modelling public expenditure decision-making. This paper is an extended comment on one such attempt: Fred Thompson and Richard Williams, "A Horse Race Around a Möbius Strip: A Review and a Test of Utility Maximizing and Organizational-Process Models of Public Expenditure Decisions." In a commentary mode, we: (a) examine why tests of the sort that Thompson and Williams offer are neither definitive in choosing between models nor very useful in improving models; (b) outline a more meaningful test procedure; and (c) offer a somewhat more critical view than Thompson and Williams of the utility-maximizing approach to modelling public expenditure decisions.


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