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On the Origins of Data Envelopment Analysis


  • Finn Førsund


  • Nikias Sarafoglou



The concept “Data Envelopment Analysis” (DEA) was introduced in the journal literature by the highly influential 1978 paper of Charnes, Cooper, and Rhodes. In the subsequent literature the development of research leading up to this paper tended to be forgotten. However, studying this diffusion of ideas may give valuable insights into research issues still unexplored and insight in the research process itself. A natural starting point is Farrell's seminal 1957 paper on concepts of efficiency and their computation. The richness of ideas presented in Farrell is demonstrated by the fact that the developments in the following two decades were based on aspects and ideas there. The origins of the main developments are identified, and the connections to Charnes, Cooper, and Rhodes are explored. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Suggested Citation

  • Finn Førsund & Nikias Sarafoglou, 2002. "On the Origins of Data Envelopment Analysis," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 23-40, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jproda:v:17:y:2002:i:1:p:23-40
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1013519902012

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Berger, Allen N. & Humphrey, David B., 1991. "The dominance of inefficiencies over scale and product mix economies in banking," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 117-148, August.
    2. Afriat, Sidney N, 1972. "Efficiency Estimation of Production Function," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 13(3), pages 568-598, October.
    3. Peter Bogetoft, 2000. "DEA and Activity Planning under Asymmetric Information," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 7-48, January.
    4. Forsund, Finn R. & Lovell, C. A. Knox & Schmidt, Peter, 1980. "A survey of frontier production functions and of their relationship to efficiency measurement," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 5-25, May.
    5. Peter Bogetoft, 1994. "Incentive Efficient Production Frontiers: An Agency Perspective on DEA," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(8), pages 959-968, August.
    6. Battese, G E & Coelli, T J, 1995. "A Model for Technical Inefficiency Effects in a Stochastic Frontier Production Function for Panel Data," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 325-332.
    7. Aigner, Dennis & Lovell, C. A. Knox & Schmidt, Peter, 1977. "Formulation and estimation of stochastic frontier production function models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 21-37, July.
    8. Richmond, J, 1974. "Estimating the Efficiency of Production," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 15(2), pages 515-521, June.
    9. Rajiv D. Banker, 1993. "Maximum Likelihood, Consistency and Data Envelopment Analysis: A Statistical Foundation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 39(10), pages 1265-1273, October.
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    More about this item


    Farrell efficiency measures; frontier function; linear programming; DEA;

    JEL classification:

    • B21 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Microeconomics
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity


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