Customerizing the tenants, empoweing the managers : Impact of public housing governance reform in Hong Kong

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Anthony B.L. Cheung
  • N. M. Yip


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-109
Journal / PublicationHousing, Theory and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


The evolution of recent public housing governance reforms in Hong Kong, in particular a customerization strategy implemented at both the policy and management levels is reviewed in this article. A new tenant participation scheme, known as the "estate management advisory committee" is evaluated as a case study to illustrate the reconfiguration of public housing governance at the estate level. We explore whether customerization has increased customer power of the tenants and reduced managerial power of the public manager. It is argued that despite the customer-empowerment rhetoric, what has resulted is more a management-empowerment practice that serves largely to strengthen the role and power of housing managers. Thus, instead of resisting management reform that on the surface seems to cut into their traditional power, public housing managers have embraced the reform that they perceive better to facilitate their management functions in the changing socio-political circumstances.

Research Area(s)

  • Customer empowerment, Housing management, Public housing, Tenant participation