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postgraduate thesis: Structural change and the relationship between politicians and bureaucrats : the case of Hong Kong

TitleStructural change and the relationship between politicians and bureaucrats : the case of Hong Kong
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Burns, JP
Issue Date2012
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Li, W. [李薇]. (2012). Structural change and the relationship between politicians and bureaucrats : the case of Hong Kong. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4979926
AbstractThe relationship between politicians and bureaucrats in the policy process is among the most important aspects of any political system. The political science literature demonstrates a variety of relationships between these two roles in practice in various political settings. In this dissertation I explain the factors that account for variation in this relationship, focusing on fundamental changes such as regime change and governance reform. Hong Kong is used as a case study as it demonstrates the impact of these changes. In Hong Kong regime change has introduced a new political executive that has challenged the bureaucratic domination of the public policy process. The introduction of politicians in 2002 through the Principal Official Accountability System was an attempt by the first Chief Executive to assert political control over an “administrative state”. How did the new politicians and the bureaucrats work with each other? What explains variation of their working relations? To gauge the attitudes and behaviors of politicians and bureaucrats in the policy process, I conducted 58 interviews with political and bureaucratic elites from 2009to 2012 in Hong Kong using a questionnaire based on the work of Aberbach, Putnam, and Rockman (1981). I produced 16 case studies to understand the working relations between political executives and bureaucrats, mainly in the post 1997 period. This dissertation concludes that governance reform has changed the public service bargains from trustee-type to agency type bargains. In the process, there have been considerable contests between politicians and bureaucrats. Bureaucrats still regard themselves as guardians of satisfactory public policy and the public interest. They contested the notion of “being loyal to the government of the day”. Political executives with professional and business backgrounds displayed more elitist attitudes. They had ideals about policies but were not enthusiastic about fighting for sectoral interests. Differing social origins and career experiences explain their differing attitudes. Shared backgrounds can smooth the working relations between political executives and bureaucrats despite the public mood, the novelty of the issue or the political accountability requirements. Civil servants might support political executives’ popular new initiatives if their interests were aligned. Before the governance reform, the disagreement between policy secretary and civil servants would not lead to blame politics. After the reform, civil servants can be unwilling to support unpopular policies pushed by political executives for fear of blame.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectGovernment executives - China - Hong Kong
Politicians - China - Hong Kong
Dept/ProgramPolitics and Public Administration
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/222274

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorBurns, JP-
dc.contributor.authorLi, Wei-
dc.contributor.author李薇-
dc.date.accessioned2016-01-09T18:09:03Z-
dc.date.available2016-01-09T18:09:03Z-
dc.date.issued2012-
dc.identifier.citationLi, W. [李薇]. (2012). Structural change and the relationship between politicians and bureaucrats : the case of Hong Kong. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4979926-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/222274-
dc.description.abstractThe relationship between politicians and bureaucrats in the policy process is among the most important aspects of any political system. The political science literature demonstrates a variety of relationships between these two roles in practice in various political settings. In this dissertation I explain the factors that account for variation in this relationship, focusing on fundamental changes such as regime change and governance reform. Hong Kong is used as a case study as it demonstrates the impact of these changes. In Hong Kong regime change has introduced a new political executive that has challenged the bureaucratic domination of the public policy process. The introduction of politicians in 2002 through the Principal Official Accountability System was an attempt by the first Chief Executive to assert political control over an “administrative state”. How did the new politicians and the bureaucrats work with each other? What explains variation of their working relations? To gauge the attitudes and behaviors of politicians and bureaucrats in the policy process, I conducted 58 interviews with political and bureaucratic elites from 2009to 2012 in Hong Kong using a questionnaire based on the work of Aberbach, Putnam, and Rockman (1981). I produced 16 case studies to understand the working relations between political executives and bureaucrats, mainly in the post 1997 period. This dissertation concludes that governance reform has changed the public service bargains from trustee-type to agency type bargains. In the process, there have been considerable contests between politicians and bureaucrats. Bureaucrats still regard themselves as guardians of satisfactory public policy and the public interest. They contested the notion of “being loyal to the government of the day”. Political executives with professional and business backgrounds displayed more elitist attitudes. They had ideals about policies but were not enthusiastic about fighting for sectoral interests. Differing social origins and career experiences explain their differing attitudes. Shared backgrounds can smooth the working relations between political executives and bureaucrats despite the public mood, the novelty of the issue or the political accountability requirements. Civil servants might support political executives’ popular new initiatives if their interests were aligned. Before the governance reform, the disagreement between policy secretary and civil servants would not lead to blame politics. After the reform, civil servants can be unwilling to support unpopular policies pushed by political executives for fear of blame.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.subject.lcshGovernment executives - China - Hong Kong-
dc.subject.lcshPoliticians - China - Hong Kong-
dc.titleStructural change and the relationship between politicians and bureaucrats : the case of Hong Kong-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb4979926-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplinePolitics and Public Administration-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b4979926-
dc.date.hkucongregation2013-

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