An evaluative study on the new performance appraisal system for inspectorate grade officer in the Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department

by Mak, Hoi-wan

Abstract (Summary)
(Uncorrected OCR) An Evaluatiye Study on the New Performance Appraisal System for Inspectorate Grade Officer in the Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department

Mak Hoi Wan Walter

Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Public Administration

University of Hong Kong June 2004

Chapter One


1.1 Introduction

Over the years, performance management has been one of the most

important developments and researched topics in the sphere of public and private

management. It is an integral part of the comprehensive human resource

management and many academics in their res~arch studies have been attempting to give performance management a more specific definition under different dimensions.

In the context of human resource management, performance management can be

broadly defined as a means of getting better results from the organisation and

individuals by understanding and managing performance within an agreed framework

of planned goals, standards and attribute or competence requirements (Michael

Armstrong, 1995). It is also for establishing a shared understanding about what is to

be achieved in an organisation, how it is to be achieved, and an approach to managing

people which increases the probability of achieving job-related success (Franklin

Hartle, 1997). The ideal type of performance management should be targets-oriented,

able to motivate individual employee and respond creatively to the challenges ahead.

According to the Civil Service Bureau (CSB), the objective of

performance management in Hong Kong civil service is to "improve overall

productivity and effectiveness by maximising individual performance and potential"l.

In modernising the human resource management (HRM) in civil service, the HKSAR

I Civil Service Bureau. The "Performance Management Guide". (Hong Kong Government Printer 1999).


government is finding itself having to constantly implement strategic human resource

management policy to cater for the changing political pressures. Over the years,

civil service has been targeted for endless criticisms for being inefficient especially

during economic bad times. With the Chief Executive's initiative to implement the

'Principal Official Accountability System' on 2 July 20022 that aims to promote

better accountability in the delivery of government services, public demands are

becoming a rising challenge which compel civil service to operate in a more efficient

and accountable manner. Pressures on the government to enhance efficiency and

greater accountability reached its peaks when disappointing policy blunders recurred

one after the other under the Chief Executive's governance. To survive from the

growing trend for better accountability and improvement on government performance,

the HKSAR government in recent years has been endeavouring to enhance its

performance management system across the civil service3.

Far early in March 1999, the CSB initiated a performance

management review aiming to enhance efficiency of the civil service and to

strengthen the government's capability in meeting the increasing challenges of the community4, With the Chief Executive's proposal to promote a 'people~based

governance' in his 2004 Policy Address5, public aspirations over the performance of

civil service are expected to be much higher and demanding.

The continued

2 The "Chief Executive Policy Address 2001", HKSAR Government. (Hong Kong Government Printer 2001).

3 Civil Service Bureau. Civil Service Bureau Circular 10/2000.

4 Civil Service Bureau. Civil Service Reform consultation document "Civil Service into the 215t Century". (Hong Kong Government Printer 1999).

5 The "Chief Executive Policy Address 2004", HKSAR Government. (Hong Kong Government Printer 2004).


expenditure cuts for government departments coupled with the policy commitment of

the Chief Executive would definitely add pressure on Heads of Departments to

critically develop their specific human resources through implementing an effective

performance management system.

Conventionally, the Hong Kong civil service is characterised as a

highly bureaucratic structure modeled on the Max Weber's "Bureaucracy". Its

administration and operation are therefore infested with forest of rigid rules and

regulations. An effective performance management system is therefore necessary to

ensure that civil servants are able to raise its capacity in the delivery of public

services. Nowadays, given that promotion opportunity is becoming slim due to the

continued downsizing policy in the civil service6, senior managers in government

departments have been facing increasing challenges when dealing with the problem

of disincentive staff and their declining performance. This is one of the main reasons

explaining why the HKSAR government is keen on identifying an effective

performance management system for developing its human resources.

Assessment of employee performance requires a process of accurate

evaluation and reliable tool.

Over the years, annual performance appraisal on

individual civil servant is the conventional tool in the HKSAR government to

implement human resource development plan. Because of the civil service reform,

government departments are becoming more dependent upon performance appraisal

for making various sorts of personnel and managerial decisions. As succinctly

propounded by Gary P. Latham (1982), " Performance appraisals are crucial to the

6 Speech delivered by the Secretary for Civil Service at the Special Finance Committee Meeting on 29 March 2004. Website:


effective .management of an organisation's human resources, and the proper

management of human resources is a critical variable affecting an organisation's


Inefficient performance of civil service has been a focus of criticism

I ,

for years by the local legislature and many oversight bodies who find it irresistible to

gain popularity by simply being critic against the bureaucrats. Therefore, the impetus

for changing the performance management system in civil service basically arises

from the increasing demands for an efficient public service and accountability of

public officials, the persistent adversity in global economic depression. as well as the

government's commitment to balancing the deficit budget by downsizing the civil

service7. As these external factors interact with each other, they become the

cumulative force contributing to the momentum for reforming the civil service

performance management system.

Having experienced pressure for improvement and in the wake of the

continued expenditure cut for government departments, the central administration

recognised the need to raise the capacity of civil service. As one of the four main

areas in the civil service reform initiatives, the CSB issued a comprehensive guidance

in 1999 that encourages Heads of Departments to improve their departments'

performance management system. The 'Performance Management Guide' published

by the CSB8 essentially forms the policy guidelines for reference by all Heads of

7 'Balanced budget deadline is delayed' headlined in the South China Morning Post dated 23 October 2003.

8 Civil Service Bureau. The "Performance Management Guide". (Hong Kong Government Printer 1999)


Departments to formulate an effective performance management system with due

regard to the particular circumstances in their departments.

To respond to the central administration's move to promote

awareness of performance management in the civil service, the Customs and Excise

Department has recently reformed its performance appraisal system for the

Inspectorate grade officer in 2003. In light of this reform, the objective of this

dissertation seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of this new performance appraisal

system for the Inspectorate grade officers with a view to ascertaining whether it can

help bringing a new concept of performance management to the Customs and Excise


1.2 New Performance Appraisal System for Inspectorate Ranks in C&ED

In line with the central government initiative to promote civil

service reform on staff performance management9, the Customs and Excise

Department (C&ED) IS one of the first departments committed to improving

productivity of its employees through the channel of performance management

reform. Amongst many other things, the reform has brought substantial change to the

performance appraisal system for the Inspectorate grade officerslO. Performance

appraisal as an integral part of the performance management cycle in the C&ED has

9 Civil Service Bureau. Memo from the Secretary for the Civil Service to all Bureau Secretaries and Heads of Departments on 'Civil Service Reform - Performance Management and Performance-Based Reward System' dated 26 April 2000.

10 'Inspectorate grade officer' in C&ED consists of Senior Inspector and Inspector. Schedule 1, Customs and Excise Service Ordinance, Cap.342. Laws of Hong Kong.


Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Hong Kong

School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:hong kong china customs excise dept officials and employees administration rating of


Date of Publication:01/01/2004

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