Physician managers in Hong Kong public hospitals


Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Examining the self-identification of physician managers with their manager and clinician roles, and its impact on the state and professional powers in healthcare governance.

Design/methodology/approach: With purposive sampling, a total of 15 frontline clinical department managers (mainly principal consultants) and directorial managers (mainly Hospital Chief Executives) were recruited to elite interviews. The themes for data collection and analysis were based on a systematic scoping review of previous empirical studies.

Findings: Physician managers maintained respective jurisdictions in policymaking and clinical governance, as well as their primary self-identification as rationalizers or protectors of medicine, according to their managerial roles at a directorial or departmental level. However, a two-way hybridization of physician managers allowed the exchange of clinical and managerial authority, resulting in cooperation alongside struggles among medical elites; while some frontline managers were exposed to managerial values with the awareness of budget and organizational administration, some directorial managers remained aligned to a traditional mode of professional communication, such as persuasion through informal personal networks and by using clinician language and maintaining symbolic contact with the clinical field.

Originality/value: This study identifies the inconsistency in physician managers' identity work, as well as its patterns. It goes beyond a dichotomized framework of professionalism versus managerialism or an arbitrarily blurred identity. Copyright © 2020 Emerald Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-230
JournalJournal of Health Organization and Management
Issue number2
Early online date13 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


Fung, K. K. W. (2020). Physician managers in Hong Kong public hospitals. Journal of Health Organization and Management, 34(2), 215-230. doi: 10.1108/JHOM-04-2019-0098


  • Hong Kong
  • Identity work
  • Hybridity
  • Clinical engagement
  • Doctor managers
  • Physician managers


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