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Efficiency in the management of urban water services. What have we learned after four decades of research?

  • Francisco González Gómez


    (Universidad de Granada)

  • Miguel Angel García Rubio


    (Universidad de Granada)

The analysis of efficiency in the management of urban water services offers valuable information both for the managers of this service and for public bodies in order to introduce improvements in business practices and in the design of public policies. Since the pioneering study carried out by Ford and Wardford (1969), there have been many attempts to follow this line of research. Due to the importance of the subject and the volume of publications in this field, we believe it is necessary to provide a balance of the work carried out over the last four decades. In this overview, we look at the main questions which have arisen over this period, we provide a synthesis of the results obtained and, finally, we point out some challenges for future research.

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Article provided by IEF in its journal Hacienda Pública Española/Revista de Economía Pública.

Volume (Year): 185 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (July)
Pages: 39-67

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Handle: RePEc:hpe:journl:y:2008:v:185:i:2:p:39-67
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  1. David Saal & David Parker & Tom Weyman-Jones, 2007. "Determining the contribution of technical change, efficiency change and scale change to productivity growth in the privatized English and Welsh water and sewerage industry: 1985–2000," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 127-139, October.
  2. Andrés J. Picazo-Tadeo & Francisco Gonz�lez-G�mez & Francisco J. S�ez-Fern�ndez, 2006. "Accounting for operating environments in measuring water utilities’ managerial efficiency," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(6), pages 761-773, July.
  3. Nauges, Celine & van den Berg, Caroline, 2007. "How"natural"are natural monopolies in the water supply and sewerage sector ? Case studies from developing and transition economies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4137, The World Bank.
  4. Torres, Marcelo & Morrison Paul, Catherine J., 2006. "Driving forces for consolidation or fragmentation of the US water utility industry: A cost function approach with endogenous output," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 104-120, January.
  5. Teeples, Ronald K & Glyer, David, 1987. "Cost of Water Delivery Systems: Specification and Ownership Effects," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(3), pages 399-408, August.
  6. Thanassoulis, Emmanuel, 2000. "The use of data envelopment analysis in the regulation of UK water utilities: Water distribution," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 126(2), pages 436-453, October.
  7. Colin Kirkpatrick & David Parker & Yin-Fang Zhang, 2006. "An Empirical Analysis of State and Private-Sector Provision of Water Services in Africa," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 20(1), pages 143-163.
  8. Johannes Sauer & Klaus Frohberg, 2007. "Allocative efficiency of rural water supply – a globally flexible SGM cost frontier," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 31-40, February.
  9. Lin, Chen, 2005. "Service quality and prospects for benchmarking: Evidence from the Peru water sector," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 230-239, September.
  10. Seroa da Motta, Ronaldo & Moreira, Ajax, 2006. "Efficiency and regulation in the sanitation sector in Brazil," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 185-195, September.
  11. Hunt, Lester C & Lynk, Edward L, 1995. "Privatisation and Efficiency in the UK Water Industry: An Empirical Analysis," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(3), pages 371-88, August.
  12. Ohlsson, Henry, 1998. "Ownership and Production Costs - Choosing Between Public Production and Contracting Out," Working Paper Series 1998:6, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  13. David S Saal & David Parker, 2000. "The impact of privatization and regulation on the water and sewerage industry in England and Wales: a translog cost function model," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(6), pages 253-268.
  14. Andres Picazo-Tadeo & Francisco Saez-Fernandez & Francisco Gonzalez-Gomez, 2009. "The role of environmental factors in water utilities' technical efficiency. Empirical evidence from Spanish companies," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(5), pages 615-628.
  15. Vickers, John & Yarrow, George, 1988. "Regulation of privatised firms in Britain," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(2-3), pages 465-472, March.
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