Budgeting and Governing
Aaron Wildavsky's greatest concern, as expressed in his writings, is how people manage to live together. This concern may at first appear to have little to do with the study of budgeting, but for Wildavsky budgeting made living together possible. Indeed, as he argues here, if you cannot budget, you cannot govern.
Budgeting and Governing gathers in one place a mass of material that otherwise would be lost in a wilderness of journals and edited volumes. With few exceptions, Wildavsky chose the articles in this collection. They are organized largely chronologically so that the reader can trace the progression of his thought which moved from studies of the American federal government, through comparative work, and on to placing budgeting within a broader theory of political culture. Wildavsky wrote about budgeting because in his words, "when a process involves power, authority, culture, consensus, and conflict, it captures a great deal of national political life." Wildavsky was interested in budgeting because of what it could tell us about the classic questions of- politics: who gets what, how, and why? His earlier analyses focus narrowly on budgeting personnel and agency actors in answering these questions, while in his later work the contending actors become sub-cultural types.
To Wildavsky politics was about finding terms for living together in spite of ideological differences. Budgetary incrementalism helped to manage this otherwise unmanageable task. He thought synoptic budgeting and all related reforms would increase disagreement and raise the stakes, and so were unwise. Analysis had to serve politics, not try to displace it.
“The intent of this collection of essays is to show the development of the late Wildavsky's ideas on budgeting from the beginning of his career to the end. The collection has sections dealing with Wildavsky's cultural theory of budgeting and specific proposals for budgetary reform in the US and elsewhere… Recommended for research libraries and graduate students in public administration.”
—K. Buterbaugh, Choice
"Brendon Swedlow and Transaction have rendered policy scholars, budget specialists, and public managers a tremendous service by pulling together this posthumous collection of Aaron Wildavsky's writings on the vital, if often politically tense, relationship between budgeting and governing. Those who have never read the 16 articles contained in the bookàare in for an intellectual treat. Those already well versed in the major arguments and themes of this work will be reminded of how much the public policy world lost when Wildavsky died in 1993."
—Eric M. Patashnik, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management
"[Wildavsky] was one of the few people in the field who took the word æscience,' as in political science, to mean precisely that: the scientific study of political behavior and its institutions. He was also one of the even rarer groups of people in the discipline who expressed his moral preferences and concerns in plain words."
—Irving Louis Horowitz, Tributes