The Research Group on Budgetary Matters (GRAB – 19th-21st centuries) is an interdisciplinary working group, designed as a forum for exchanges on sources, research methodology and data interpretation, open to all those interested – regardless of their disciplinary background (political science, history, law, sociology, economics, etc.) – in the financing of state-led sectoral policies. This group is intended for public finance specialists as well as for those who focus on the analysis of a specific sector of public action (culture, education, environment, justice, health, etc.).
The GRAB has launched a call for papers in order to stimulate research on the financing of state-led sectoral policies, while offering interested researchers a space for discussion and exchange on their work. The seminar sessions thus scheduled, from May 2020 to December 2021, will alternate with workshops open to witnesses or dedicated to the critical analysis of budgetary sources. The objective is to compile, from these interventions, two or three thematic dossiers for publication in peer-reviewed journals
Calendar of events
- Call open until 15 November 2019.
- Examination of the proposals by a scientific committee and reply to the authors : 15 December 2019.
- Scheduling of the sessions, in agreement with the authors, between 15 December 2019 and 15 January 2020.
- The sessions will take place on Thursday, from 17:00 to 19:30, in Paris, between May 2020 and December 2021 (ten sessions).
- Preparation of the special issues and selection of the journals will begin in early 2020.
- Proposals for papers, written in French or English, should include a title, an abstract (2500 signs maximum) and a detailed bibliography. The abstract should include a brief section to assess the novelty of the research in relation to existing work in this sector. Proposals should be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
- The selected authors will send the detailed outline of their intervention to the seminar organizers, at least one week in advance, so that it can be read by the discussants. Under conditions, we will cover travel and accommodation for the speakers of each session, but we would appreciate a regular participation in the seminar. To this end, we are looking for a solution to make the seminar accessible by videoconference.
The communications may cover all or part of the period addressed by the GRAB (19th century to the present day). Priority will be given to work that explores blind spots in current research. We welcome submissions from various disciplinary fields (history, political science, economy, sociology, law etc.). Foreign contributions and international comparisons are welcome. We invite submissions that deal with one or more of the below-mentioned topics or other possible topics that focus on the theme of our working group.
1. At the heart of the budgetary process (May 2020-December 2020)
Various authors have described the budgetary process from the point of view of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Our aim here is to broaden the survey by looking at spending departments : the way they invest this budgetary procedure, the instruments they use, and the specific challenges they face in budgetary matters.
Papers may address the following topics:
- The “financial function” within the so-called “spending” ministries: what are the profiles of those who exercise it (in comparison with the “budgetary” ones of the Ministry of Economy and Finance) ? What is the nature of their relationship with the services responsible for forecasting and programming? What is their degree of involvement in the management and distribution of jobs and resources?
- Statistical apparatus, software, modelling… What are the uses and effects of these tools on the budgetary process, from costing to negotiation? The aim here is to assess the effects of a technicalization of public action, which gradually disqualifies the legal-literary apprehension of the just, the efficient and the relevant.
- The irruption of politics. The budgetary fabric is not only the confrontation of two administrative rationalities (that of the budgetary and that of the “spenders”): it involves political choices, in the strong sense of the arbitration that involves the future of the country, but also in the “weak” sense of the preservation of electoral interests. The influence of politics and politicians on the budgetary process can take several forms, beyond the arbitration of the head of government or the amendments voted in Parliament: incursions by the Presidency of the Republic, pressure exerted by major local elected officials and their associations, and more broadly by various interest groups, etc.
In this changing configuration, what is behind the “political argument” frequently used to rule out arbitration based on administrative logics? Consistency with stated political priorities, effective stakeholder pressure, the spectre of social disorder, or the prospect of the upcoming elections?On another level, political economy research has sought to model, for certain sectors of public action, the relationship between budgetary choices and electoral strategies. Do the case studies confirm these analyses?
2. From budget to expenditure (January 2021-December 2021)
We will welcome contributions that address the whole sequence of steps of the spending process, from apportionment through the closing of accounts. During implementation of the budget, spending plans are usually altered, sometimes significantly. However, we lack studies addressing this specific topic of budget implementation. Proposals may address the following topics :
- The distortions and their significance. What do the distortions between projected and actual expenditure reveal? Beyond the random share of the unpredictable, are there recurring phenomena that inform us about the uses of the budget as a “political display”, which we often know in advance that it will be denied by the facts? What are the specific difficulties that appear, in the different sectors of public action, in terms of the consumption of credits, and how do officials of “spending” ministries try to solve them (creation of specific instruments, secondary adaptations, etc.) ?
- Expenditure in its context. In many sectors, competences are shared and state money co-funds policies alongside with local authorities, private actors or the European Union. Consequently, debates that aroused during the budgeting process may rise again in the final step of budget implementation (the closure of schools in declining rural areas being one example among others).
Seminar organized with the support of the IGPDE (Institute of Public Management and Economic Development), the CHEFF (Committee for the Economic and Financial History of France), the Centre d’études des mondes moderne et contemporain (EA 2958) and the Centre de recherche Droit et territoire (EA 3312).
Bordeaux University - France
Centre d'études des mondes moderne et contemporain EA 2958
Centre de recherche droit et territoire EA 3312