Health services reform and human resource management in Hong Kong public hospitals

David Thompson*, Edward Snape, Coryn Stokes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This article discusses the empirical study of reform in the human resource management function in the Hong Kong Hospital Authority. It describes the prior management of the hospitals based on the civil service administration model before looking at management reform in general. From this research, the creative tensions between the centrifugal and centripetal forces in the pursuit of ‘effectiveness’, ‘efficiency’ and ‘economy’ are explored in terms of decentralization. A survey of line managers, in eleven Hospital Authority hospitals, revealed the progress of decentralization: a majority of respondents felt that, over the previous five years, managers at their level had been given greater responsibility for human resource management issues. In spite of the widespread perception of increased decentralization, however, it was recognized that there are limits to decentralization. It was the routine administration rather than the policy formulation and interpretation which had been decentralized, and hospitals continued to rely on the Hospital Authority Head of Office for guidance on policy interpretation. Several barriers to the effective decentralization of responsibility for human resource management were identified, including a lack of management skill, knowledge and time, the attitudes of some managers and the tight control of budget.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-39
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Health Planning and Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1999

User-Defined Keywords

  • human resource management
  • decentralization
  • health service reform


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