Results, Results, Results: Can Outcome Budgeting Deliver?

The Essex Accounting Centre (EAC) warmly invite you to join guest speaker Professor Irvine Lapsley from the University of Edinburgh Business School.

  • Wed 19 Feb 20

    12:00 - 14:00

  • Colchester Campus


  • Event speaker

    Professor Irvine Lapsley, Professor of Accounting Emeritus and Director of the Institution of Public Sector Accounting Research, University of Edinburgh Business School

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Essex Accounting Centre Research Seminar Series

  • Event organiser

    Essex Business School

  • Contact details

    Dr Md Shoaib Ahmed

The aim of the Essex Accounting Centre (EAC) research seminar series is to support our world-class research activities in four key areas: social responsibility and corporate governance; (management) accounting change (in privatised, public and third sectors); global development, corruption and accountability; and reporting, regulation and capital markets. The seminar series is also expected to promote interdisciplinary research that links the work of members of the centre with others both within the university and with external institutions.

Seminar abstract

This is a study of the Scottish Government's experience with outcome budgeting.

One of the central aims of devolution is to increase the accountability of the Scottish Government to the Scottish Parliament and public. In structural terms, this has operated through a more extensive committee system, and greater scrutiny of the Scottish Budget.

The formal constitutional relationship, however, remains based on the Westminster model of powers invested in Scottish Ministers accountable to Parliament. The Scottish Government in the main controls the flow of information in financial reporting, whilst responding to requests for further information from committees.

Outcome budgeting emerged from the modernisation agenda of the UK Labour Government elected in 1997. Performance indicators were already in use in government, largely for audit and value-for-money purposes. New Labour saw outcome budgeting as a mechanism for improving accountability through governance by results, which advocated "integrating the accountability, financing and organisation of service around outcomes"(Perri 6, 1998, P2).

Such political advocacy however, seldom recognised that defining outcomes is controversial because of the technical and political complexity of the task (Power, 1997, p.xvii).

Outcome budgeting is contentious. 

This study reveals the Scottish Government initiative (which continues to the present day) as an example of mimicry and as ceremonial. The lack of connection between the formal Outcome Budget and the public sphere in Scotland leaves individual public service organisations operating in a kind of performance management vacuum rather than the tightly coupled regime proposed for Scotland by this innovation.


This seminar is free to attend, there is no need to book in advance. Please feel free to bring your friends, colleagues and classmates along.

Seminar abstract

Professor Irvine Lapsley is a Professor of Accounting Emeritus and Director of the Institute of Public Sector Accounting Research at the University of Edinburgh Business School.

He has been an adviser to the Finance and Health Committees in Scottish Parliament. 

Professor Irvine has also held research grants from the following;

  • EU
  • ESRC
  • Nuffield
  • CIMA
  • ICAS

He is an Honorary Professor at Queen's University Belfast and a Visiting Professor at NTNU University, Trondheim. He has previously been a Visiting Professor at Lund University, Politecnico di Milano, Mannheim University, University of Zaragoza and at Sydney University.

He is also is Joint Editor of Financial Accountability and Management (Wiley), a journal devoted to accountability and financial management in public sector and non-profit organisations. Professor Irvine is also Chair of the Scientific Committee of the EIASM Public Sector Conference; Co-chair of the EIASM research workshop on the Third Sector. He has also co-chaired 25 editions of the New Public Sector Seminar, which has been supported by BAA, CIMA and ESRC.

Professor Irvine Lapsley has published widely on public sector issues. His recent publications include;

  • Hillsborough: The Fight for Accountability, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, (Christine Cooper and Irvine Lapsley, 2019)
  • The Reform of UK Universities: A Management Dream, an Academic Nightmare, Abacus, (Juan Du and Irvine Lapsley, 2019)
  • Accounting for Crime in the Neoliberal World, British Accounting Review, (Alex Ala and Irvine Lapsley, 2019)
  • Transforming the Public Sector 1998 - 2018, Auditing, Accounting and Accountability Journal, (Irvine Lapsley and Peter Miller, 2019)
  • Technology and the NPM Movement, Public Money and Management, (Irvine Lapsley and Federica Segato, 2019)