Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Stuart I. Bretschneider


auditing, New York, organizational commitment, public policy, school business officials

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Prior research has suggested that models intended to explain the organizational commitment of public employees have not accounted for the substantial and often intense external controls imposed on public organizations. A public scandal involving corruption and mismanagement in a New York State public school district resulted in the state legislature implementing a program of reforms intended to increase the financial accountability of public school districts. The aim of this exploratory, multi-subject qualitative study is to gain insight about how financial managers in public school districts experienced the reform and think about external controls that feature an extensive regimen of auditing. According to the ten school business officials that participated in the study, the accountability demands produced by the reform have affected their work environment in tangible ways. Data from structured interviews with the study participants revealed a) how they entered and became established in the school business career field, b) how participants assess the utility of the reform elements, and c) the participants' strategies for survival in the post-reform environment. The participants: generally prepared for a career in business and entered the occupation through the civil service; have varying opinions about the utility and appropriateness of the reform elements; and consistently agree that over the ten years since the reform legislation was passed, the audit regime has produced little benefit relative to its cost, yet has been a major factor in creating an environment that is substantially more difficult for school business officials to survive in. Of particular interest for this project was elaborating on the mechanisms by which external controls affect the psychological attachments that bind public sector financial managers to their organizations. The study findings generally support the view that a public financial manager's organizational commitment is a function of their perceptual constructions of the job autonomy and supervisor support that they enjoy. Reputation, which is moderated by exposure in the news media, also appears to be an important factor.


Open Access