Book Projects

Health Policy in Asia: A Policy Design Approach

(co-authored with M Ramesh)

Read the Introduction and Conclusion chapters!

Read Reviews of the Book published in the Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis and the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law.

Abstract: The objective of the book is to assess the policy actions of select Asian governments (China, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea) to address critical health system functions from a policy design perspective. Our findings show that all governments in the region have made tremendous strides in focussing their attention on the core issues and, especially, the interactions among them. However, there is still insufficient appreciation of the usefulness of public hospitals and their efficient management. Similarly, some governments have not made sufficient efforts to establish an effective regulatory framework which is especially vital in systems with a large share of private providers and payers.  A well-run public hospital system and an effective framework for regulating private providers are essential tools to support the governance, financing, and payment reforms underway in the six health systems studied in this book.


As the countries of Asia have been confronting the COVID pandemic, it is all the more important to understand their health policies, and the ways in which health services are delivered to the public.  This book does an admirable job of first developing a design approach to health policy then applying it to six major health care systems in the region.   The book also demonstrates the utility of well-informed comparative policy analysis.  This is a major contribution to health policy studies, but also to public policy studies”

B. Guy Peters, Maurice Falk Professor of American Government, University of Pittsburgh

“This book does an exceptional job of describing and explaining the reforms of six countries that are home to more than one third of the world’s population and also includes three of the world’s top five health systems in terms of performance.  It unpacks various policy tools and their use across these systems, making a compelling case for the importance of public ownership and financing of health care given the appropriate governance structures.  For those systems that incorporate private hospitals and financing this analysis points to the crucial role of targeted regulation in assuring affordable care.  It is a must read for academics, policy makers and health service managers looking to better understand how to design health policy.”     

Helen Dickinson, Professor of Public Service Research, University of New South Wales

“In this year of global health crisis, understanding the performance of health systems has never been more important. It’s clear the world has much to learn from Asia in this regard. Ramesh and Bali’s application of a “policy design” framework contributes new and up-to-date thinking in comparing the performance of key Asian health systems and understanding the how and why. It will be a valuable asset to citizens and policy-makers seeking guidance for future improvements in population health and equity”

Peter Berman, Professor of Health Policy, University of British Columbia 

“Health systems in Asia have been evolving rapidly in recent decades, providing a rich source of evidence on the various ways of addressing health system challenges.  This fascinating book on the policy actions of 6 Asian governments in relation to universal health coverage draws valuable lessons on critical topics such as the importance of public hospitals, and the need for effective regulation”

Anne Mills, Provost and Professor of Health Economics and Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

“This timely and thoughtful book offers a new approach to understanding and
addressing a key policy challenge for our age – Universal Health Coverage.
Adopting a Policy Design approach, the authors develop a robust framework for
assessing health policy across a range of governmental systems and identify
critical areas for improvement.  Their analysis offers important insights into the
state of Universal Health Coverage in Asia, and provides academics and policy
makers with a replicable framework globally. A must read for all those interested
in health policy, public administration, and comparative analysis”

Helen Sullivan, Professor of Public Policy and Dean, College of Asia & the
Pacific, The Australian National University

Productivity and Innovation in SMEs: Creating Competitive Advantage in Singapore and South East Asia

(co-authored with Peter McKiernan, Peter Waring, and Chris Vas)

Abstract: Small and medium sized firms are an influential driver of economic growth in advanced world economies like the USA, Germany, Japan and South Korea. Throughout the 2000s, Singapore experienced a decline in economic growth which was linked to decreasing productivity in its SMEs. The decline triggered a transformational policy by a Government intent on forging a `high skill-high productivity’ future. Given substantial evidence that low productivity growth occurred in sectors where immigrants dominated the workforce, the seeds of recovery focused on improving productivity and innovation amongst smaller and medium sized enterprises in those sectors. Hence, this book investigates the factors determining productivity amongst SMEs across the manufacturing, retail and food and beverage domains. It utilises personal interviews with global experts and CEOs, combined with primary data collected from a major international Delphi survey, and interviews with two hundred and fifteen SME owners and managers in Singapore. This data helps us to better understand how these productivity-enhancing factors can be used to increase performance amongst SMEs. By investigating the nature and process of total factor productivity in Singapore’s SMEs, this book tells the policy story behind the revolution. To provide a comparative analysis, Singapore’s story is placed within a South East Asian context. The unfolding narrative contains important lessons for policy-makers and industry globally, as they assess the strategic choices available to them for improving productivity and innovation.

This book is was published by Routledge Focus in November 2018.

Reviews of the book…

“In the 2000s, Singapore’s leaders worried that their success had stalled and that the city-state’s political economy might unravel. As this book makes clear, one of the problems identified was lagging productivity growth. Enhancing this through the upgrading of SMEs would reinvigorate both the economy and the state’s faded political agenda. This book results from a determined effort to discern what went awry and then how to improve SME productivity. Bringing an array of academic knowledge and insight and considerable experience, the authors set out a series of pathways and scenarios they created for Singapore’s policymakers. A fascinating social science approach to productivity, the book provides a fascinating foundation for later scholars and policymakers, not just for those studying productivity but also as a baseline for assessing the implementation of strategies for navigating the future.” 

Kevin Hewison, Weldon E. Thornton Distinguished Emeritus Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

“Singapore is a paradox: one of the world’s most competitive economies while strangely scoring relatively much less well in the domains of productivity and innovation. The strength of this book is that it addresses both the academic lacunae and the Singaporean paradox. Pleasingly, the book is a strong blend of detailed description of the Singaporean manufacturing sector embedded in the wider scholarly and applied policy study of the causal relationship between productivity and innovation and successful SME activity. Specifically, the authors are to be commended for the manner in which the book provides a superb interdisciplinary study of the relationship between the core factors of productivity (not only labour and capital but also management practices, ICT investment, R&D intensity and innovation) and the competitiveness of Singapore’s manufacturing sector SMEs.” — 

Richard Higgott, Emeritus Professor of International Political Economy, University of Warwick, UK; and Research Professor, Institute of European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

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