Pushing the DEA research envelope
This brief article first investigates key dimensions underlying the progress realized by data envelopment analysis (DEA) methodologies. The resulting perspective is then used to encourage reflection on future paths for the field. Borrowing from the social sciences literature, we distinguish between problematization and gap identification in suggesting strategies to push the DEA research envelope. Emerging evidence of a declining number of influential methodological (theory)-based publications, and a flattening diffusion of applications imply an unfolding maturity of the field. Such findings suggest that focusing on known limitations of DEA, and/or of its applications, while searching for synergistic partnerships with other methodologies, can create new and fertile grounds for research. Possible future directions might thus include 'DEA in practice', 'opening the black-box of production,' 'rationalizing inefficiency,' and 'the productivity dilemma.' What we are therefore proposing is a strengthening of the methodology's contribution to fields of endeavor both including, and beyond, those considered in the past.
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