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Evaluating the administrative efficiency of courts


  • Lewin, Arie Y
  • Morey, Richard C
  • Cook, Thomas J


In addition to being held accountable for judicial decision, courts, like other public agencies, can and should be evaluated in terms of their administrative efficiency. This paper illustrates how courts can be evaluated in terms of their relative administrative efficiency, using a new approach--data envelopment analysis (DEA)--first proposed by Charnes et al. [1]. The DEA is based upon the economic notion of Pareto optimality which states that a given decision making unit (DMU) is inefficient if some other DMU, or some combination of other DMUs, can produce at least the same amounts of all outputs with less of some resource input and not more of any other resource. Conversely a DMU is said to be efficient if the above is not possible. Charnes et al. [1] generalized the usual input/output ratio measure of efficiency for a given unit in terms of a fractional linear program with fractional constraints. In the case of courts, the efficiency of any particular court is calculated by forming the ratio of a weighted sum of outputs to a weighted sum of inputs, where the weights for both outputs and inputs are to be selected in a manner that calculates the Pareto-Koopmans efficiency of the court. This paper reviews the DEA method and illustrates its application to a data base for 100 criminal superior courts in North Carolina.

Suggested Citation

  • Lewin, Arie Y & Morey, Richard C & Cook, Thomas J, 1982. "Evaluating the administrative efficiency of courts," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 401-411.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jomega:v:10:y:1982:i:4:p:401-411

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