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Managerialism in Providing Social Services


Management involves the process of planning, organizing, leading, and controlling various functions either in an organization or society delivering the intended results. However, the theoretical framework is based on the premise that individuals should follow standard criteria to handle issues that affect society and their overall wellbeing. Nevertheless, there are several factors that influence society and how individuals want to be governed. The contentious issues are about the culture of the people, their economic needs, and the environment they live. That presents a challenge to the conventional aspect of management. It is concerning that societal needs vary across different cultures. In response, the concept of managerialism serves as a better solution to promoting creativity and innovation in management. Away from the conventional management practice, managerialism tends to customize needs by generating solutions that are specific to certain problems. Considering the case of Hong Kong city, this analysis will argue that managerialism is critical in strengthening state control in addressing welfare issues in society.

The role played by managerialism in social welfare

Social welfare is an important factor that demonstrates the quality of life people living in a particular society lead. The social issues that determine their quality of life include access to economic opportunities, healthcare, education, security, and political leadership. However, it is not always possible to achieve all the needs by strictly adhering to the management functions. The needs vary from one society to another. For example, the case of Hong Kong city marks an important factor about management. It is both an administrative and commercial city in China (Lam, 2008). With its diverse culture and emerging opportunities, competition, level of education, and increasing youthful population, the societal needs are transiting. The case will be different from other cities like New York, Dubai, Durban, and many other cities in the world. That notwithstanding, the managerialism aspect is playing a significant role in the growth and development of the region.

Given the complexity of the region’s social issues, the management issues of governance, leadership, decision-making, motivation of youthful population, quality of social services, and cultural interactions demand that more versatile and specific management, leadership, and administrative approaches be deployed. That is essential in drawing customized management solutions to the Hong Kong Society (Leung, 2002). The focus of any managerialism approach should tackle issues related to efficiency in resource management, public management effectiveness, client satisfaction, and public satisfaction. That is critical for a unique entity like Hong Kong. Being a colony, commercial and administrative city of China, it is emerging that it has diverse needs. Since the mid-19th Century, the area has grown and harbor major industrial activities (Lam, 2008). The shift from the past status of poverty and dependency on British rule is attributed to a change of management and leadership. Moving towards a sovereign region, Hong Kong has managed to introduce different management and administrative aspects tailored to societal needs.

Even though the city was a British colony, the change in socio-political atmosphere has helped address investment risks and create opportunities for growth for the locals. For someone who has grown in the place, one could wonder what economic changes might have impacted its flourishment today (Wang, 1999). With the issues of the financial and economic situation in Hong Kong, one could find it informative to evaluate the role of leadership and stability, government policies, support for demographic trends, and civil and social services.

After the British rule over 100 years ago, the sovereignty of the region has been characterized by a change in political leadership and stability based on changing social needs. For example, the Chinese government observed that the entity was culture differently because of its colonial status. That being the case, it was not prudent to apply inland laws in the city of Hong Kong. By accepting and supporting the Sino-British Declaration (1984), China managed to enact a basic law that sought to retain the state’s political, judicial, financial, and economic systems. Interestingly, that allowed the country to allow the use of Two Leadership systems (Lam, 2008). Most importantly, the social, cultural, and economic factors necessitated the use of specific managerial systems to stir growth and prosperity. While it is considered a dependent territory of China, Hong Kong’s success is related to its high degree of autonomy.

Furthermore, the level of freedom explains why the concept of managerialism is critical in the success of social welfare. It shifts from the outlined management conventions to look into real social issues that affect the locals. Under the “One Country, Two Systems,” financial crises have been addressed differently. That is by separating the chaos and confusion that affect China and its administrative city of Hong Kong (Wang, 1999). Even though it is worth noting that the place is governed by the Chinese government, its political and democratic spaces are huge. The continued reforms of the local economy continue to stir growth of the business sector, something that has increased employment opportunities for the locals. Also, foreign investors are coming, and more resources are generated from production activities to support social lives.

The government policies and attitudes towards foreign investors, also in some way, are influencing the welfare status of the locals. Globally, among 151 economies, Hong Kong is labeled the most liberalized economy. That is according to the Index of Economic Report of 2012 (, n.d.). The economic freedom in the state has helped raise the status of Kong into a financial center characterized by expansive technologies, infrastructure, and communication networks. All along, the Chinese government has endeavored to encourage and welcome foreign investors. Because of the cultural life of the locals, the government has found it necessary to introduce a laissez fair kind of policy. That limits the use of restrictions that bar foreign from establishing businesses in the region. Notably, the diverse culture requires the management process considers the issue of discrimination. That enhances mutual coexistence between the locals and foreigners. By attracting foreign investors, the Hong Kong city has introduced a low tax regime to favor the growth of the business sector. With the favorable taxation policy, exchange control is low, while the flow of information is high. Additionally, dividends and royalties can free be converted and remitted to the foreigner’s countries. The mixed-economy kin of economy is also stirring of small business. It is to register and operate business entities (Wang, 1999). That is different from mainland China, which has strict laws on registration, taxation, and operating of businesses. By creating such an atmosphere, the country has noticed that the welfare of the Hong Kong people will only be enhanced by understanding fundamental social issues that affect them. That includes the need for employment, the creation of businesses, and judicial justice.

Also, the managerialism approach is applied in the demographics growth of Hong Kong. In 2013, the state’s population was approximately about 7.2 million. That is despite being a small region. Even though it is among the densely populated areas in the world, its birth rate has remained low (, n.d.). That is despite its high life expectancy. Because of a large aging population, Hong Kong is likely to suffer in the future. With the emerging employment opportunities, investment, and social services provided by the government, the demand for more human resource surpasses its supply. In the long run, that will affect its ability to sustain its growth. It is worrying that the government will experience pressure in trying to increase the labor supply and continuously increase Hong Kong’s GDP. In response to that, the government seems to be applying the managerialism concept to address the issue of population. The People’s Republic of China has developed a policy to introduce the “Permit for Proceeding to Hong Kong and Macao.” The policy allows citizens from mainland China to migrate and settle in Hong Kong permanently. Even though the policy supports the processing of Oneway Permit, it is helping increase the migration of more people from mainland China to the place (Painter, 2005). The management strategy is meant to address the problem of labor shortage and boost economic activities. That is transferring more skills to the administrative city.

While Hong Kong is slowly recovering from the financial crisis of 2008, its economic trends are regaining. That is attributed to the migration of some manufacturing activities from mainland China to the place. Examples of companies that have been promoted in the region include petroleum, China Railway, China Energy Engineering, China Communications, and Construction Company Limited. The transfer of those companies to the state has increased the delivery of services to the social sector (, n.d.). In line with social welfare, Hong Kong, in partnership with the Chinese government, is continuously embarking on processes, leadership, and production strategies that will cause drastic growth. In the event there was an unstable economic situation like it happened in 2008 during the financial crisis, the GDP will continue fluctuating. Hence, considering the issues of social welfare, a response is necessary in increasing employment by making the place most attractive to the investors. As an important approach to social problems, introducing more economic activities in Hong Kong will serve better in creating more empowering opportunities. That will cause a shift include commercial activities. Arguably, that is critical in diversifying economic generating opportunities. If the government maintains the current administrative status of Hong Kong, it will mean that only a few individuals will get employed. Also, the service sector will be weak. For example, if the GDP drops, it will not be easy for the entity to finance essential social services like education and healthcare (Painter, 2005). They are essential in supporting quality of life. That is only possible if the services are readily available and affordable.

Over the years, Hong Kong has been considered an administrative state. That has created room for society to create unequal opportunities for all residents. For instance, political and societal forces have continued to insulate the state. Only a few individuals access quality social services. It, therefore, rewards status for those who work in social services (Wang, 1999). The attributes resemble those of the West and countries that put more focus on the administrative sector. Nevertheless, the country has become under sharp criticism because of its fiscal policies that do not address general economic problems that prevail in Hong Kong. One of the issues that have been fronted to demonstrate how the government is failing the growth of Hong Kong and its people, it is high-level bureaucracy (Leung, 2002).

Since the state depends on mainland China to enact some economic policies, it is very difficult for it to create flexibility in policy creation. That is despite rapid social, economic, and political changes. Marking the trends of time like good governance, cultural preservation, and technology, it is imperative that some bureaucracies have to be eliminated. One of the areas the government has continued to work on is the liberalization of the asset market. That happened between 1994 and 1999 when the economic growth had slowed. However, with the underlying fundamentals in society, investors’ confidence was boosted because of the reduced production and technologic costs (Painter, 2005). The asset trade was central to address various conditions like inflation and consumption. Bot h are essentials of quality life for members of society. Before then, macroeconomic policies recorded imbalances between mainland China and Hong Kong. With uncertain prospects, it was important to stabilize the economy to create more development opportunities for its people.

Since dependency on mainland China to enact some policies was established as one area that derailed the growth of Hong Kong, the aspect of bureaucracy was to be addressed. The government sought to establish a clear demarcation of the responsibilities and authorities of Hong Kong and mainland China. The change of policy also outlined the roles of the private and public sectors (Painter, 2005). The main issues that were cleared included the establishment of a transparent and sound legal system, neutralism in the civil service, efficient administration, and free flow of information. There are critical factors in society as they determine how people live and the quality of services they get. Further, Hong Kong was allowed to establish its rules and regulatory frameworks (Lam, 2008). That was meant to reduce long procedures of making changes in the service sector to improve the speed of delivering such services. Consequently, the management change helped the state reduce the size of its public sector budget to below 20%. That was important in creating flexibility in the marketing by creating more opportunities for market growth (, n.d.). Having established the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has played a big role in regulating interbank liquid transfers, thus, controlling cash flow and inflation. For instance, reduced inflation is doubted as the best practice of ensuring that the public can afford essential services.

Applying the concept of managerialism in service delivery

In applying the managerialism concept, professional discourses are important in promoting social work activities and their impact on people. From the public sphere, managerialism has sweeping effects that change how services are discharged and accessed (Klikauer, 2015). What happens between states and their citizens. With a positive relationship, the partnership can coordinate in exploring and understanding factors that affect members of a particular society. The needs of society continue to change, presenting some challenges to the management of public services (Timor-Shlevin & Benjamin, 2021). Regarding that, the new public management requires that leaders use economic logic to optimize the use of available resources. One way managerialism has infiltrated the public service is by emphasizing management strategies that incorporate clear parameters. Most important, the focus should be on professional conducting and regarding ethics the members of a society accept. That could be related to the case of Hong Kong, where the culture had been influenced by its colonialists. That included the way they communicated, interacted, and chose their political leaders.

One view that is important in managerialism is the idea of having an entrepreneurial mind that makes one imagine new ways that increase efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery (Dahl, 2009). However, both public and private sectors experience challenges when applying the concept. It derives from professional discourses. For instance, individuals in management tend to apply management functions (Boone, Roets & Roose, 2019) directly. Even where the cultural and societal contexts are different circumstances presented by each situation, or society will always vary. With that in mind, practice changes the rationale of delivering services. Unlike management, managerialism allows individuals to exercise flexibility in removing structural issues that delay delivering services to the public.

Also, managerialism emphasizes that leaders take sole responsibility for what they do. They are obligated to analyze and understand social circumstances and act in a manner that is appropriate and suits the social order. It will, therefore, be wrong to argue that management functions are always correct even when they do not consider social constructs, practices, values, and norms. For instance, people living in poverty require basic needs. They need to be evaluated and understood from the cultural factors that contribute to their situation (Timor-Shlevin & Benjamin, 2021). However, management may cause flaws in addressing their problems if it assumes and pathologies their culture as the main cause. In some cases, their poverty may be caused by poor leadership decisions, the imbalanced distribution of resources, or even discrimination. In some societies, one’s cultural background may affect their interaction and relationship with the rest of the members. In so doing, they do not access critical information about their available opportunities (Boone, Roets & Roose, 2019).

Moreover, in such a scenario, managerialism allows leaders and decision-makers to take a broad look into the fundamentals and draw strategies that fit every situation. That is a shift from conventional management practices that may generalize situations and apply the same interventions across different contexts. Thus, looking into the issues of gender and oppressive streams, social work practices may be affected if one does not understand how they are intertwined and their existence in society (Klikauer, 2015). If they are deeply rooted, it will not be easy to use mainstream social work procedures to deliver efficient and effective services (Dahl, 2009). Consequently, it is always important to use managerialism to social constructs and how they cause distress among people. Moving away from conservative thoughts and approaches, one becomes more aware of the underlying situations that influence the way of life of a particular group.


Management, over the years, has been used as an instrument to explore and implement different public policies. While that is essential as it provides a professional aspect in leadership, its standardization is reducing its effectiveness. That happens because, in most cases, persons tasked with leadership responsibility tend to apply the theoretical framework as it is in every societal context. When that happens, the solutions generated from social activities do not align with specific needs. That is contrary to managerialism. While it recognizes the use of managerial skills as important, it provides an extension of what should be done to improve the results of a given process. One of the areas managerialism is strong at is the use of creative thoughts to create structures and services that suit individuals of a given society. That is established in the case of Hong Kong. Having gained its independence from Britain over 100 years ago, it has continued to struggle to raise its economic and social status. In different ways, the needs of the people of Hong Kong vary from those of mainland China. In response to that, different structures have been enacted to allow the identity to enact its policies to underlying challenges that hinder its growth. Based on the example, it is worth emphasizing the use of the concept of managerialism over management since it provides customized solutions.


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Dahl, H. M. (2009). New public management, care and struggles about recognition. Critical Social Policy, 29(4), 634–654. (n.d.). Hong Kong, China: Growth, Structural Change, and Economic Stability During the Transition. Retrieved 13 March, 2022 from

Klikauer. (2015). What Is Managerialism? Critical Sociology, 41(7-8), 1103–1119.

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Wang, H. (1999). Hong Kong and globalization. Asian Perspective, 23(4), 143-165.


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