Resource allocation decision-making: A maximum variation case study of two districts in Texas




Mahbubani, Rhea Teresa

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The purpose of this maximum variation case study was to explore the factors, values and assumptions that influence resource-allocation decision-making. The study was conducted in a region of Texas with inequitable funding. Two districts with very different socioeconomic levels were purposefully selected. District-level participants included the superintendent, human resource director, finance director and a board member. Qualitative data analysis followed Yin's (2009) multiple case study methodology. Two philosophical frameworks guided data analysis: Deficit Theory and Social Justice Theory. Positive societal forces, primarily available to the affluent school district, partially offset negative societal forces of the funding landscape. Contextual and organizational factors that affected resource allocation decisions remained largely out of the control of the decision-makers. The values inherent in the selection of goals and programs, staffing decisions, fund management decisions, and decisions on providing equity influenced resource allocation and varied greatly between the districts. Assumptions were individually held and less apparent to the participants than their district-held, actively stated values. Philosophical and contextual assumptions influenced decision-makers' beliefs about which students were worthy and deserving of opportunity. The educational opportunities available in the affluent school district were vastly different from those in the low-wealth district. A model was developed to represent pictorially the interrelationship of the societal forces, factors, values and assumptions that influence resource allocation decisions. Specific recommendations were included to remedy the inequity in resource allocations.


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decision-making, educational opportunity, equity, poverty, resource allocation, social justice



Educational Leadership and Policy Studies