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Are all Scales Optimal in DEA? Theory and Empirical Evidence

Finn Førsund and Lennart Hjalmarsson

Journal of Productivity Analysis, 2004, vol. 21, issue 1, 25-48

Abstract: Policy recommendations concerning optimal scale of production units may have serious implications for the restructuring of a sector. The piecewise linear frontier production function framework (DEA) is becoming the most popular one for assessing not only technical efficiency of operations, but also for scale efficiency and calculation of optimal scale sizes. The main purpose of the present study is to investigate if neoclassical production theory gives any guidance as to the nature of scale properties in the DEA model, and empirically explore such properties. Theoretical results indicate that the DEA model may have more irregular properties than usually assumed in neoclassical production theory, concerning shape of optimal scale curves and the M-locus. The empirical results indicate that optimal scale may be found over almost the entire size variations in outputs and inputs, thus making policy recommendations about efficient scale difficult. It seems necessary to establish the nature of optimal scale before any practical conclusions can be drawn. Proposals for indexes characterizing the nature of optimal scale are provided. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Keywords: optimal scale; scale elasticity; efficiency; Regular Ultra Passum (RUP) law; data envelopment analysis (DEA); efficiency frontier; M-locus (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2004
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Working Paper: Are all Scales Optimal in DEA? Theory and Empirical Evidence (2002) Downloads
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DOI: 10.1023/B:PROD.0000012451.84910.6e

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