What Makes a Government Spend More on the Environment? The Case of Hong Kong


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Awarding Institution
  • Xiaohu WANG (Supervisor)
  • Scott Victor VALENTINE (Supervisor)
Award date28 Nov 2018


Governments are the largest financiers of environmental products. However, little research has been conducted into the process and mechanism of public environmental budgets. This study examines the budgetary process of the Hong Kong government, addressing the following questions: What influences the government’s environmental spending? What administrative strategies do bureaucrats adopt in the budgetary process and how do they go about adopting them? Drawing on the existing literature on environmental governance and public budgeting, this study develops a theoretical framework that combines factors from both external environmental pressures and, more importantly, internal institutional dynamics – the latter having rarely been examined in the existing literature. The research adopts a mixed methodology. A quantitative spending analysis identifies evidence of spending patterns and tests factors that influence environmental spending. A content analysis, meanwhile, demonstrates how these factors work within the budgeting process. The results indicate that the Hong Kong government’s environmental spending is still largely a reaction to external environmental pressure, while the impacts of institutional dynamics and political forces are accentuated. The latter factors have become increasingly salient in Hong Kong with the expanding role of the self-governing legislature. Administrators have adopted a variety of strategies in an attempt to win legislative support for environmental funding. This research contributes to the existing literature by providing a comprehensive explanation of government environmental spending and, more importantly, by deciphering the influence of political institutions on such spending.

    Research areas

  • Environmental management, Public budgeting, Punctuated equilibrium theory, Administrative strategies