The Bounded and Pragmatic Consultant: Fiscal Impact Analysts as Rational Actors

Dustin C. Read, Andrew R. Sanderford, Thomas Skuzinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines how fiscal impact analysts retained by municipal governments across the United States approach their work. Consistent with theories of rationality found in the extant literature, the results suggest these third-party consultants do not view themselves solely as technicians responsible for generating the most accurate studies possible. Rather, they rely on heuristics to enhance the defensibility, interpretability, and tractability of the reports they produce, while recognizing political dynamics and the need to build consensus. These reflections add the voice of the fiscal impact consultant to the planning research–a voice surprisingly absent to date.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-488
Number of pages14
JournalPlanning Practice and Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019


  • Fiscal impact analysis
  • consultants
  • land use
  • municipal government
  • rationality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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