Power of politics and reasonableness in policy study: on some methodological problems with the Harvard Team Report.

  • Julian KR Chun
  • Published 1999 in The Journal of medicine and philosophy


The so-called "Harvard Team Report," commissioned by the Hong Kong government (Hong Kong SAR Government, 1999), suggests significant institutional changes to the local health care system, including a partial shift of the financial burden directly to the citizens. I argue that 1) the Report's adoption of the contextuality principle as its research framework encounters practical problems in collecting data for a reliable analysis; 2) the existing health care system already satisfies the Report's first guiding principle; 3) the Report's employment of the "working assumption" of the government (i.e., not increasing its financial support of health care) as its second guiding principle is questionable, for the share of the percentage of GDP as represented by the existing system (4.6% in 1996) is small enough; and 4) because of 3), the Report is unnecessarily constrained in its choices of considered options and seems to overlook some feasible ones. In conclusion, the methodological reasonableness of the Report is questioned.


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