Line-item Budgeting and Film-Production: Exploring some Benefits of Budget Constraints on Creativity

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This paper aims to explore the role of line-item budgeting in film production in an effort to illustrate the positive effects that budgetary constraints can have on creativity.

Using Elster’s (2000) constraint theory as a basis for the research, this paper conducted a case study on the making of a Danish adventure film and analysed the role budgeting plays from the film director’s point of view.

This paper suggests that the constraints of the line-item budget imposed on the director had positive effects in terms of the pre-commitments entailed, which aided in protecting the director against the negative aspects of passion (e.g. distorted thought processes, myopia and weakness of will) in the creative process and in terms of the ability of the constraints to channel creativity in certain directions, thus preventing the availability of too many options from hampering the creative process.

The paper contributes to management control research in two ways. By addressing calls to provide more insight into the positive effects management control constraints might have on creativity, this study explores somewhat ignored aspects of line-item budgeting, adding greater insight into the interrelations between creativity and control. By exploring the ways in which line-item budgeting might take on the role of pre-commitment advice and devices in the creative process, this paper further exposes the links between accounting constraints and self-control.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Research in Accounting and Management
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)321-345
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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