Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Business Administration

Major Professor

Dejun (Tony) Kong, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Doug Hughes, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Hammond, DBA

Committee Member

Tianxia (Tina) Yang, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andrew Artis, Ph.D.


Budgetary Slack, Decision-Making, Ethics, Moral Utility Theory


Government budget managers are responsible for the proper stewardship of public funds and facilitating the business transactions necessary to meet the public’s needs. Sometimes, during these decisions, managers can experience pressure to make an unethical decision. A better understanding of this issue can help organizations prevent misallocation of funds and adverse effects within the community. The problem is that the general pressure model lacks a framework to explain the decision-making process. Moral utility theory can provide insight into how people weigh or score choices with ethical considerations. This study found that government budget managers included their self-interests when experiencing tension under pressure. Consequently, self-interest had a significant relationship with how likely they were to approve a questionable request. These findings advance research on budgetary slack, moral utility theory, and practical implications for observing potentially sub-optimal budgeting behavior.

Included in

Accounting Commons