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Reviews 201 Jane C. Y. Lee and Anthony B. L. Cheung, editors. Public Sector Reform in HongKong. Hong Kong: Chinese University ofHong Kong Press, 1995. xi, 324 pp. Paperback $22.00, isbn 962-201-655-3. Public Sector Reform in HongKongis an edited volume that offers its readers interesting and useful material, including a case study ofpolicy making and implementation and a discussion ofthe possible trends in public management in Hong Kong. First ofall, fhis book will be valuable to those interested in public policy. It is a collection of essays and policy papers that shed considerable light on policy implementation in the Hong Kong context. It also provides very interesting analyses on the perspectives ofpolicy implementers, policy designs and contexts, püot schemes, and problems ofimplementation. In the existing literature on public policy, it is by no means easy to find a case history ofpolicy implementation on a particular issue, as exemplified by Jeffrey L. Pressman and Aaron Wüdavsky 's celebrated Implementation (1984). In this light, the present volume should be appreciated as die first case study ofpolicy implementation in Hong Kong. In addition, this book is concerned with the ongoing process ofpublic-sector reform in Hong Kong since 1989. The reform officially commenced in fhat year under the leadership offhe Public Sector Reform Policy Group chaired by the Chief Secretary and supported administratively by the Efficiency Unit within the Government Secretariat. This reform has been characterized by two basic themes: the "managerialism" ofpublic management and the "commercialization" ofpublic functions (Lee, p. 75). "Managerialism," conceptualized as "the new public management" elsewhere in die book (e.g., Cheung, pp. 48-57), refers to the restructuring ofpublic organizations (including public administration) in accordance with fhe logic and principles of commercial firms and a market orientation. In other words, die criteria ofefficiency, measurable output, monetarized values, and principles ofmarket exchange have been introduced when designing and selecting managerial and organizational instruments involved in public management . The term "commercialization" (or "privatization," as it is often referred to) concerns the multifaceted phenomenon ofthe transfer ofpublic functions to the private sector, characterized by denationalization, the sale of state assets, divestiture , withdrawal, corporatization, marketization, and deregulation (or "liberalization "). The reform has not added anydiing entirely novel to the existing privatiza-© 1997 by University tion policy in Hong Kong, but it has provided fresh impetus toward privatization, ofHawai'i Pressas witnessed in die corporatizing ofthe Hong Kong Hospital Authority in 1991. Hong Kong has had its own brand of "privatization" policy that dates back to the last century. 202 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. i, Spring 1997 WMe the editors of this book have selected a most meaningful topic for their project, there are some biases inherent in fhe very choice offhis topic. The volume covers the initial phase ofpublic-sector reform. Consequently, it can, at best, give us only a partial picture ofa policy-making process that by its very nature will be long and extensive. Admittedly, as Cheung puts it, "it is not clear ifthe Public Sector Reform document has alreadybecome an entrenched policy objective, nor is the time ripe for one to speculate on its outcome" (p. 53). Furthermore, the volume focuses on policy designs, placing excessive emphasis on fhe intentions and preferences of the policy makers, possibly at the cost ofpresenting a clear picture offhe actual extent ofimplementation, the problems it creates, and the unintended consequences. Beginning in 1989, the Hong Kong brand ofpublic-sector reform was trading behind simUar attempts in the U.K., which had originated during the era ofPrime Minister Thatcher about a decade earlier in 1979. In fact, many close parallels can be drawn between the Hong Kong and British cases, as discussed by Cheung (pp. 53-54) and Chapman (pp. 157-208). Hong Kong appears to have borrowed heavily from the British experience in the area oforganizational streamlining. For instance, the three pilot studies on restructuring in education (pp. 89-118), Electrical and Mechanical Services (pp. 119-142), and fhe Marine Department (pp. !43-154) bear close resemblance to the British "Next Steps," for example, in the defining oforganizational boundaries, die identification ofoperational objectives, and the emphasis on measurable results and financial accountability (pp. 162-165...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 201-203
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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