Data envelopment analysis in performance measurement: a critical analysis of the literature

  • Published November 10, 2016
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    Volume 14 2016, Issue #3 (cont. 3), pp. 705-713
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    3 articles

This study examines the benefits of data envelopment analysis (DEA) in evaluating the performance of decision making units (DMUs). DEA is a mathematical programming tool applied in performance measurement. The problem identified is establishing business support units as value adding business units. A case is made for applying DEA when evaluating the performance of such business support units. To this end, a literature review of the results of applications of DEA to the evaluation of information technology and purchasing supply chain management functions was conducted. The findings indicate the benefits of DEA are that the method identifies efficient performers in a given population and, therefore, allows for benchmarking against the ’best in class’ performer. This as opposed to more commonly used parametric methods, such as regression analysis, which result in a comparator that represents the average performance for a given population, therefore, allowing only for measurement against the average. In addition, the findings indicate that in respect of business support units, the DEA methodology allows for the incorporation of intermediate outcomes, which facilitates the measurement of the contribution of these units to overall company performance. Although the DEA methodology has been widely applied, it is still not as well known or generally applied as the more common approaches. The recommendations made in this paper will be beneficial in bringing DEA to the attention of decision-makers. The recommendations will also raise awareness of the potential benefits to be realised when applying the method in developing performance measurement frameworks for business support units.

Keywords: performance measurement, data envelopment analysis, decision making units, business support units.
JEL Classification: C61, L25

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