Performance budgeting as a ‘creative distraction’ of accountability relations in one Russian municipality

Evgenii Aleksandrov, Anatoli Bourmistrov, Giuseppe Grossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The paper explores how the implementation of performance budgeting unfolds public managers’
attention and responses to competing accountability demands over time.

This is a longitudinal study of one Russian municipality’s implementation of PB under central government pressures during 2013–2017. Using triangulation of 25 interviews, documentary analysis and field observations, we employed institutional logics to guide the study.

The paper demonstrates the dynamic properties of PB construction under competing accountability demands via the “creative distraction” metaphor. PB was a “distraction” mechanism, which, on one hand, strengthened external accountability, while, on the other, distracting the municipality from
internal municipal demands. Nevertheless, this “distraction” was also “creative,” as it produced proactive responses to competing accountability demands and creative effects over time. Specifically, PB also led to elements of creative PB negotiations between departments when managers started cooperating with
redirecting the irrelevant constraints of performance information in budgeting into necessary manipulations for municipal survival. The demonstrated “creative distraction” is explained by the changing institutional logics of public managers supplemented by a set of individual factors.

The paper responds to the recent calls to study PB practice under several accountability demands over time. In this regard, we show the value of public managers’ existing institutional logics as they
shape PB’s capacity to balance competing accountability demands. As we revealed, this capacity can be limited, due to possible misalignment between managers’ attention toward “what to give an account for” during
budget formation (input orientation driven by OPA logic) and “what is demanded” with the introduction of PB (output orientation driven by NPM logic). Yet, the elements of proactive managerial responses are still evident
over time, explained by a set of individual factors within the presented case, namely: learning NPM logic, strengthened informal relationships and a common saturation point reflected by managers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-424
JournalJournal of Accounting in Emerging Economies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020-May-14
Externally publishedYes

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Economics (50201)


  • Performance budgeting
  • Accountability
  • municipality
  • institutional logics
  • russia
  • attention


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