Public Organization Review

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 493–518 | Cite as

Nepalese Budgetary Dynamics: Following Incrementalism or Punctuated Equilibrium?

  • Hari Prasad Guragain
  • Seunghoo LimEmail author


Government budget appropriation patterns are mainly explained by theories of incrementalism and punctuated equilibrium. Consistent with these theories, this study empirically analysed Nepalese budgetary time series data from 1990 to 2017 and concluded that the budget appropriation pattern is characterized by several fluctuations and policy changes that are not limited to incremental changes. In addition to considering hypotheses regarding incremental change and punctuated equilibrium, three additional hypotheses based on budget adjustment assumptions are derived and evaluated: parallel, sequential, and complementary punctuation. Extending such assumptions to explain the budgetary process contributes to introducing budget punctuation typologies that enrich punctuated equilibrium theory.


Types of budget punctuations Incrementalism Nepalese budgetary dynamics Political instability 


  1. Anderson, S., & Harbridge, L. (2010). Incrementalism in appropriations: Small aggregation, big changes. Public Administration Review, 70(3), 464–474.Google Scholar
  2. Bailey, J. J., & O’Connor, R. J. (1975). Operationalizing incrementalism: Measuring the muddles. Public Administration Review, 35(1), 60–66.Google Scholar
  3. Baral, L. R. (1995). The 1994 Nepal elections: Emerging trends in party politics. Asian Survey, 35(5), 426–440.Google Scholar
  4. Baral, L. R. (2002). Nepal in 2001: The strained monarchy. Asian Survey, 42(1), 198–203.Google Scholar
  5. Baumgartner, F. R., & Jones, B. D. (1993). Agendas and instability in American politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  6. Baumgartner, F. R., Breunig, C., Green-Pedersen, C., Jones, B. D., Mortensen, P. B., Nuytemans, M., & Walgrave, S. (2009). Punctuated equilibrium in comparative perspective. American Journal of Political Science, 53(3), 603–620.Google Scholar
  7. Baumgartner, F. R., Foucault, M., & François, A. (2012). Public budgeting in the EU Commission: A test of the punctuated equilibrium thesis. Politique Européenne, 38(3), 124–153.Google Scholar
  8. Berry, W. D. (1990). The confusing case of budgetary incrementalism: Too many meanings for a single concept. Journal of Politics, 52(1), 167–196.Google Scholar
  9. Bhattarai, B. (2002). Triangular balance of forces. Economic and Political Weekly, 37(46), 4606–4610.Google Scholar
  10. Birkland, T. A. (2015). An introduction to the policy process: Theories, concepts and models of public policy making. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Braybrooke, D., & Lindblom, C. E. (1963). Strategy of decision. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  12. Breunig, C. (2006). The more things change, the more things stay the same: A comparative analysis of budget punctuations. Journal of European Public Policy, 13(7), 1069–1085.Google Scholar
  13. Breunig, C., & Koski, C. (2006). Punctuated equilibria and budgets in the American states. Policy Studies Journal, 34(3), 363–379.Google Scholar
  14. Breunig, C., Koski, C., & Mortensen, P. B. (2009). Stability and punctuations in public spending: A comparative study of budget functions. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 20(3), 703–722.Google Scholar
  15. Chapagain, K. (2011, August 28). Nepal elects a Maoist as prime minister. The New York Times, Retrieved from
  16. Chon, Y. O., & Ahn, K. C. (2015). Applying the incrementalism model to the free school meals policy in Korea. International Review of Public Administration, 20(2), 194–207.Google Scholar
  17. Citi, M. (2013). EU budgetary dynamics: Incremental or punctuated equilibrium? Journal of European Public Policy, 20(8), 1157–1173.Google Scholar
  18. Cohen, M. D., March, J. G., & Olsen, J. P. (1972). A garbage can model of organizational choice. Administrative Science Quarterly, 17(1), 1–25.Google Scholar
  19. Danziger, J. N. (1976). Assessing incrementalism in British municipal budgeting. British Journal of Political Science, 6(3), 335–350.Google Scholar
  20. Davis, O., Dempster, M., & Wildavsky, A. (1966). A theory of the budgetary process. American Political Science Review, 60(3), 529–547.Google Scholar
  21. Devkota, K. (2012). A perspective on the Maoist movement in Nepal. D.R. Khanal, Kathmandu. Retrieved from
  22. Do, Q., & Iyer, L. (2010). Geography, poverty and conflict in Nepal. Journal of Peace Research, 47(6), 735–748.Google Scholar
  23. Feder-Bubis, P., & Chinitz, D. (2010). Punctuated equilibrium and path dependency in coexistence: The Israeli health system and theories of change. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 35(4), 595–614.Google Scholar
  24. Gellner, D. (2014). The 2013 elections in Nepal. Asian Affairs, 45(2), 243–261.Google Scholar
  25. Ghasemi, A., & Zahediasl, S. (2012). Normality tests for statistical analysis: A guide for non-statisticians. International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 10(2), 486–489.Google Scholar
  26. Givel, M. (2010). The evolution of the theoretical foundations of punctuated equilibrium theory in public policy. Review of Policy Research, 27(2), 187–198.Google Scholar
  27. Gosling, J. J. (2009). Budgetary politics in American governments (5th ed.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Government of Nepal (GoN). (1990). The constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal. Kathmandu: Government of Nepal Retrieved from Scholar
  29. Government of Nepal (GoN). (2015). The constitution of Nepal. Kathmandu: Government of Nepal Retrieved from Scholar
  30. Gujarati, D. (2006). Essentials of econometrics. New York: The McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  31. Heller, P. (1975). A model of public fiscal behaviour in developing countries: Aid, investment, and taxation. American Economic Review, 65(3), 429–445.Google Scholar
  32. John, P., & Margetts, H. (2003). Policy punctuations in the UK: Fluctuations and equilibria in central government expenditure since 1951. Public Administration, 81(3), 411–432.Google Scholar
  33. John, P., & Bevan, S. (2012). What are policy punctuations? Large changes in the legislative agenda of the UK Government, 1911–2008. Policy Studies Journal, 40(1), 89–108.Google Scholar
  34. Jones, B. D., & Baumgartner, F. R. (2012). From there to here: Punctuated equilibrium to the general punctuation thesis to a theory of government information processing. Policy Studies Journal, 40(1), 1–20.Google Scholar
  35. Jones, B. D., Baumgartner, F. R., & True, J. L. (1998). Policy punctuations: US budget authority, 1947-1995. Journal of Politics, 60(1), 1–33.Google Scholar
  36. Jones, B., Baumgartner, F., Breunig, C., Wlezien, C., Soroka, S., Foucault, M., & Walgrave, S. (2009). A general empirical law of public budgets: A comparative analysis. American Journal of Political Science, 53(4), 855–873.Google Scholar
  37. Jones, B. D., Zalányi, L., & Érdi, P. (2014). An integrated theory of budgetary politics and some empirical tests: The US national budget, 1791–2010. American Journal of Political Science, 58(3), 561–578.Google Scholar
  38. Jordan, M. M. (2003). Punctuations and agendas: A new look at local government budget expenditures. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 22(3), 345–360.Google Scholar
  39. Kantha, P. (2014). Nepal and Bhutan in 2013: A year of elections. Asian Survey, 54(1), 206–213.Google Scholar
  40. Khanal, Y. (1998). Nepal in 1997: Political stability eludes. Asian Survey, 38(2), 148–154.Google Scholar
  41. Kim, C. H. (2005). A study on patterns determinants of the change of government expenditure: Focused on the change of functional expenditure of Korean central government. Korean Public Administration Review, 39(3), 115–136.Google Scholar
  42. Lindblom, C. E. (1959). The science of muddling through. Public Administration Review, 19(2), 79–88.Google Scholar
  43. Mahat, R. S. (2005). In defense of democracy: Dynamics and fault lines of Nepal’s political economy. New Delhi: Adroit Publishers.Google Scholar
  44. Mikesell, J. L. (2014). Fiscal administration: Analysis and applications for the public sector (9th ed.). Boston: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  45. Ministry of Finance (MoF). (2016). Budget formulation referent (7 thamendments), Kathmandu, Nepal: Ministry of Finance (In Nepali).Google Scholar
  46. Ministry of Finance (MoF). (2017a). Annual budget speech of fiscal year 2017–18. Kathmandu: Ministry of Finance. Accessed from
  47. Ministry of Finance (MoF). (2017b). Economic surgery, 2016–17, Kathmandu: Ministry of Finance. Accessed from
  48. Mishra, B. (1990). Nepal’s new constitution: One step forward. Economic and Political Weekly, 25(48/49), 2650–2651.Google Scholar
  49. Mogues, T. (2012). What determines public expenditure allocations?: A review of theories, and implications for agricultural public investment. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Discussion Paper 01216. Retrieved from
  50. Mortensen, P. B. (2005). Policy punctuations in Danish local budgeting. Public Administration, 83(4), 931–950.Google Scholar
  51. National Planning Commission (NPC). (2002). The tenth plan (2002–2007), Kathmandu: National Planning Commission. Retrieved from
  52. Nordby, E., Claussen, J., & Shakya, P. L. (2017). Development finance: Assessment for Nepal (final report). Kathmandu: Ministry of Finance.Google Scholar
  53. Ogura, K. (2008). Seeking state power: The communist party of Nepal (Maoist). Berlin: Bergh of Research Center for Constructive Conflict Management Accessed from Scholar
  54. Poterba, J. M. (1997). Demographic structure and the political economy of public education. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 16(1), 48–66.Google Scholar
  55. Poudyal, A. (1995). Nepal in 1994: The hung parliament! Asian Survey, 35(2), 160–165.Google Scholar
  56. Reddick, C. G. (2003). Budgetary decision making in the twentieth century: Theories and evidence. Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, 15(2), 251–274.Google Scholar
  57. Royston, P. (1992). Shapiro-Wilk and Shapiro-Francia tests. Stata Technical Bulletin, 1(3), 20–23.Google Scholar
  58. Rubin, I. S. (2014). The politics of public budgeting: Getting and spending, borrowing and balancing (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks: CQ Press.Google Scholar
  59. Sebõk, M., & Berki, T. (2017). Incrementalism and punctuated equilibrium in Hungarian budgeting (1991-2013). Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, 29(2), 151–180.Google Scholar
  60. Smith, K. B., & Larimer, C. W. (2016). The public policy theory primer. Denver: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  61. Swain, J. W., & Reed, B. J. (2010). Budgeting for public managers. Armonk: M. E. Sharpe.Google Scholar
  62. True, J. L. (2000). Avalanches and incrementalism: Making policy and budgets in the United States. American Review of Public Administration, 30(1), 3–18.Google Scholar
  63. True, J. L., Jones, B. D., & Baumgartner, F. R. (2007). Punctuated equilibrium theory: Explaining stability and change in public policymaking. In P. A. Sabatier (Ed.), Theories of the policy process. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  64. Upreti, B. C. (2009). Challenges in the post-election scenario in Nepal. Economic and Political Weekly, 44(11), 23–25.Google Scholar
  65. Upreti, B. R. (2010). A decade of armed conflict and livelihood insecurity in Nepal. In B. R. Upreti & U. Müller-Böker (Eds.), Livelihood insecurity and social conflict in Nepal. Kathmandu: Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South.Google Scholar
  66. Upreti, B. R., Acharya, G., & Tandukar, A. (2016). State-people relations in post-conflict Nepal. Kathmandu: Nepal Centre for Contemporary Research (NCCR).Google Scholar
  67. Von Einsiedel, S., Malone, D. M., & Pradhan, S. (Eds.). (2012). Nepal in transition: From people’s war to fragile peace. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  68. Wildavsky, A. B. (1964). The politics of the budgetary process. Boston: Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  69. Wildavsky, A. B. (1984). The politics of the budgetary process (4th ed.). Boston: Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  70. Wildavsky, A. B., & Caiden, N. (2004). The new politics of the budgetary process (5th ed.). New York: Pearson Longman.Google Scholar
  71. Willoughby, K. G. (2014). Public budgeting in context: Structure, law, reform, and results. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  72. Wooldridge, J. M. (2016). Introductory econometrics: A modern approach (6th ed.). Boston: Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
  73. Yoo, K. R. (2007). The time series analysis of disconnection policy about South Korea’s central government budget. Korean Public Administration Review, 41(2), 95–116.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Development ProgramInternational University of JapanMinami Uonuma-shiJapan
  2. 2.Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration, Singh DurbarKathmanduNepal
  3. 3.Public Management and Policy Analysis ProgramInternational University of JapanMinami Uonuma-shiJapan

Personalised recommendations