Professor LAM Wai-Fung

BSocSc (CUHK), PhD (Indiana)
   (852) 3917 2391

Wai-Fung (Danny) Lam is Professor of Public Administration, Director of the Centre for Civil Society and Governance (CCSG), Co-Director of the Centre for Water Technology and Policy (CWTP), Director of the Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) Programme, and Director of the Master Public Administration (MPA) Programme at The University of Hong Kong. He finished his undergraduate study at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and received a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Indiana University, Bloomington. Professor Lam is an expert in common-pool resource management, institutional policy analysis, public policy process, public governance, and civil society. His research has focused on the design of efficient institutional arrangements for the governance and management of public resources, a core issue in public administration, sustainable development, and civil society.

1989-1994Indiana University, Bloomington, USA
PhD in Public Policy
1984-1988The Chinese University of Hong Kong
BSocSc in Government and Public Administration
Professional & Community Services
1995-presentThe University of Hong Kong Department of Politics and Public Administration
Professor (2010-Present)
Head of Department (2008-2010, 2022-Present)
Associate Professor/Senior Lecturer (2005-2010)
Associate Professor/Lecturer (1998-2004)
Assistant Professor/Lecturer (1995-1998)
2008-presentThe University of Hong Kong Centre for Civil Society and Governance
Director (2019-Present)
Deputy Director (2008-2019)
2013-2017The University of Hong Kong Faculty of Social Sciences
Associate Dean (Innovation)
1994-1995Indiana University, Bloomington, USA
The Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis Research Associate


Professor Lam’s research has evolved around institutional analysis, common-pool resources, public governance, civil society, policy process and dynamics, and public sector reform. He is the author of Governing Irrigation Systems in Nepal: Institutions, Infrastructure, and Collective Action (1998), coeditor of Asian Irrigation Systems in Transition: Responding to the Challenges Ahead (2005), co-author of Improving Irrigation in Asia: Sustainable Performance of an Innovative Intervention in Nepal (2011) and Public Policymaking in Hong Kong: Civic Engagement and State-Society Relations in a Semi-Democracy (2012).  He has published in major international journals including Governance, International Review of Administrative Sciences, Journal of Institutional Economics, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (NVSQ), Policy Sciences, Voluntas, and World Development, and served on the Editorial Committees of Public Administration Review (PAR), International Review of Administrative Sciences (IRAS), Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis (JCPA), Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (NVSQ), and Asian Politics and Policy (APP). He is co-editor of The Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Administration (APJPA). In 2010, Professor Lam was named Icon of Honor by the Farmer Managed Irrigation Systems Promotion Trust, Nepal, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the study of self-governance in water management.

Selected Publication


Governing Irrigation Systems in Nepal: Institutions, Infrastructure, and Collective Action. Oakland, CA: Institute for Contemporary Studies (ICS) Press. 1998.

Asian Irrigation Systems in Transition: Responding to the Challenges Ahead (co-edited with Ganesh P. Shivakoti, Douglass Vermillion, Elinor Ostrom, Ujjwal Pradhan, Robert Yoder). New Delhi/Thousand Oaks/London: Sage Publications. 2005.

Improving Irrigation in Asia: Sustainable Performance of an Innovative Intervention in Nepal (with Elinor Ostrom, Prachanda Pradhan and Ganesh P. Shivakoti). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. 2011.

Public Policymaking in Hong Kong: Civic Engagement and State-Society Relations in a Semi-Democracy (with Eliza Wing Yee Lee, Elaine Yee Man Chan, Joseph Cho Wai Chan, Peter Tsan Yin Cheung, and Wai-man Lam).  London: Routledge. 2012

Revitalizing Rural Communities (with Jessica Williams, Vivian Chu, and Winnie Law). Singapore: Springer Nature. 2021.


“Bureaucratizing Coproduction: Institutional Adaptation of Irrigation Associations in Taiwan” (with Ching-Ping Tang and Shih-Ko Tang). Water Alternatives 14(2): 435-52. 2021.

“Irrigation Management in East Asia: Institutions, Socioeconomic Transformation and Adaptations” (with Raymond Yu Wang and Jinxia Wang). Water Alternatives 14(2): 319-31. 2021.

“Social Expectations for Charitable Giving in China” (with Lin Nie and Kwan Nok Chan). Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. Forthcoming. 2021.

“Nonprofit Online Responsiveness: An Exploratory Field Experiment in China” (with Lin Nie). Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, DOI: 10.1177/08997640211007574. 2021.

“Elite Bargains and Policy Priorities in Authoritarian Regimes: Agenda Setting in China under Xi Jinping and Hu Jintao” (with Kwan Nok Chan and Shaowei Chen). Governance, DOI: 10.0000/gove.12543. 2020.

“Online or Offline? Nonprofits Choice and Use of Social Media in Hong Kong” (with Lin Nie). Voluntas 31:111-28. 2020

“Bureaucratic Control and Information Processing: An Institutional Comparison” (with Kwan Nok Chan). Governance 31(3):575-92. 2018.

“Policy Advocacy in Transitioning Regimes: Comparative Lessons from the Case of Harbour Protection in Hong Kong” (with Kwan Nok Chan). Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice 19(1):54 – 71. 2017.

“Institutional Nesting and Robustness of Self-governance: The Adaptation of Irrigation Systems in Taiwan” (with Chung Yuan Chiu). International Journal of the Commons 10(2):953 – 81. 2016

“How Authoritarianism Intensifies Punctuated Equilibrium: The Dynamics of Policy Attention in Hong Kong” (with Kwan Nok Chan). Governance 28(4):549 – 70. 2015.

“Giving in Hong Kong: A Growing Sector Evading Regulation” (with Elaine Chan). In The Palgrave Handbook of Global Philanthropy, eds. Pamala Wiepking and Femida Handy, 369 – 87. Palgrave Macmillan. 2015.

“The Tragedy of the Commons.” In Encyclopedia of Political Science, eds. B. Badie, D. Berg-Schlosser, and L. Morlino, Leonardo. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. 2011

“Governing the Commons.” In Handbook of Governance, ed. Mark Bevir, 501 – 17. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. 2010.

“Analyzing the Dynamic Complexity of Development Interventions: Lessons from an Irrigation Experiment in Nepal” (with Elinor Ostrom). Policy Sciences 43:1 – 25. 2010.

“Foundations of a Robust Social-ecological System: Irrigation Institutions in Taiwan.” Journal of Institutional Economics 2(2):1 – 24. 2006.

“Coordinating the Government Bureaucracy in Hong Kong: An Institutional Analysis.” Governance 18(4):633 – 54. 2005.

“Coping with Change: A Study of Local Irrigation Institutions in Taiwan.” World Development 29(9):1569 – 92. 2001.

“The Role of the Nonprofit Sector in Hong Kong’s Development” (with James Perry). Voluntas 11(4):357 – 75. 2000.

“Institutional Design of Public Agencies and Coproduction: A Study of Irrigation Associations in Taiwan.” World Development 24(6): 1039 – 54.  1996.

“Improving the Performance of Small-Scale Irrigation Systems: The Effects of Technological Investments and Governance Structure on Irrigation Performance in Nepal.” World Development 24(8):1301 – 15. 1996.

Honorary Senior Advisor
Dr. LIAO Sarah
Deputy Director
Dr. CHAN Elaine
Deputy Director and Principal Lecturer
Dr. LAW Winnie
SLGP Director & Lecturer
Dr. BURNETT Margaret Julia
Assistant Lecturer
Dr. WILLIAMS Jessica Marie
Post-doctoral Fellow
Dr. PAN Emily
Assistant Director
Ms. CHICK Katie
Assistant Director
Ms. CHOW Joyce
Assistant Project Manager
Mr. FOK Kelvin
Assistant Project Manager
Mr. LEUNG Darwin
Senior Project Officer
Ms. CHAN Karen
Senior Project Officer
Dr. HU Taihua
Senior Project Officer
Ms. KAN Mimi
Senior Project Officer
Ms. LAU Bonnie
Senior Project Officer
Ms. LAW Renee
Senior Project Officer
Mr. LEUNG Ryan
Senior Project Officer
Ms. LEUNG Vivian
Senior Project Officer
Ms. YIU Sianna
Project Officer
Mr. CHENG Woody
Project Officer
Ms. MAN Iris
Project Officer
Ms. YEUNG Daisy
Farm Technician
Mr. LI Leo
Farm Assistant
Ms. ZHANG Yiying
Executive Officer
Ms. YUEN Jamie
Honorary Senior Fellow
Mr. CHEN George
Honorary Senior Lecturer
Dr. TSOI Joyce
Honorary Lecturer
Ir Dr. LAI Elizabeth
Honorary Lecturer
Ir LAU Sophia