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On the choice of functional form in stochastic frontier modeling


  • Konstantinos Giannakas
  • Kien C. Tran
  • Vangelis Tzouvelekas


This paper examines the effect of functional form specification on the estimation of technical efficiency using a panel data set of 125 olive-growing farms in Greece for the period 1987–93. The generalized quadratic Box-Cox transformation is used to test the relative performance of alternative, widely used, functional forms and to examine the effect of prior choice on final efficiency estimates. Other than the functional specifications nested within the Box-Cox transformation, the comparative analysis includes the minflex Laurent translog and generalized Leontief that possess desirable approximation properties. The results indicate that technical efficiency measures are very sensitive to the choice of functional specification. Perhaps most importantly, the choice of functional form affects the identification of the factors affecting individual performance – the sources of technical inefficiency. The analysis also shows that while specification searches do narrow down the set of feasible alternatives, the identification of the most appropriate functional specification might not always be (statistically) feasible. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Suggested Citation

  • Konstantinos Giannakas & Kien C. Tran & Vangelis Tzouvelekas, 2003. "On the choice of functional form in stochastic frontier modeling," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 75-100, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:empeco:v:28:y:2003:i:1:p:75-100 DOI: 10.1007/s001810100120

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Michel Dumont, 2006. "Foreign outsourcing, labour demand and the choice of functional form," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 9, pages 255-273, November.
    2. Tran, Kien C. & Tsionas, Efthymios G., 2009. "Estimation of nonparametric inefficiency effects stochastic frontier models with an application to British manufacturing," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 904-909, September.
    3. Richard Fabling & David C Maré, 2015. "Production function estimation using New Zealand’s Longitudinal Business Database," Working Papers 15_15, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
    4. Kanybek Nur-tegin, 2007. "Do Transition Economies and Developing Countries Have Similar Destinies?," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 35(3), pages 327-342, September.
    5. Konstantinos Giannakas & Kien Tran & Vangelis Tzouvelekas, 2003. "Predicting technical effciency in stochastic production frontier models in the presence of misspecification: a Monte-Carlo analysis," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(2), pages 153-161.
    6. Lambarraa, Fatima & Serra, Teresa & Gil Roig, Jose Maria, 2006. "Technical efficiency analysis and decomposition of productivity growth of Spanish olive farms," 98th Seminar, June 29-July 2, 2006, Chania, Crete, Greece 10071, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    7. Monchuk, Daniel C. & Zhuo, Chen, 2008. "Explaining Production Inefficiency in China’s Agriculture using Data Envelope Analysis and Semi-Parametric Bootstrapping," 2008 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2008, Orlando, Florida 6456, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    8. Gabriela Pérez Quesada, 2017. "Technical efficiency of dairy farms in Uruguay: a stochastic production frontier analysis," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0517, Department of Economics - dECON.
    9. Carvalho, Pedro & Marques, Rui Cunha, 2014. "Computing economies of vertical integration, economies of scope and economies of scale using partial frontier nonparametric methods," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 234(1), pages 292-307.
    10. Amores, Antonio F. & Contreras, Ignacio, 2009. "New approach for the assignment of new European agricultural subsidies using scores from data envelopment analysis: Application to olive-growing farms in Andalusia (Spain)," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 193(3), pages 718-729, March.
    11. Hoang, Viet-Ngu & Nguyen, Trung Thanh, 2013. "Analysis of environmental efficiency variations: A nutrient balance approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 37-46.
    12. Bannour Boutheina & Labidi Moez, 2013. "Efficience des banques commerciales Tunisiennes: etude par l’approche de frontière stochastique," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 60(1), pages 103-132, March.
    13. Sanna-Mari Hynninen, 2009. "Matching in local labor markets: a stochastic frontier approach," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 15-26, February.
    14. Ariel Dinar & Giannis Karagiannis & Vangelis Tzouvelekas, 2002. "Evaluating the Impact of Public and Private Agricultural Extension on Farms Performance: A Non-Neutral Stochastic Frontier Approach," Working Papers 0205, University of Crete, Department of Economics.
    15. Hans J. Czap & Kanybek D. Nur-tegin, 2011. "Big Bang vs. Gradualism – A Productivity Analysis," EuroEconomica, Danubius University of Galati, issue 29, pages 38-56, August.
    16. Francesco Vidoli & Giancarlo Ferrara, 2015. "Analyzing Italian citrus sector by semi-nonparametric frontier efficiency models," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 49(2), pages 641-658, September.
    17. Liangjun Su & Zhenlin Yang, 2008. "Asymptotics and Bootstrap for Transformed Panel Data Regressions," Development Economics Working Papers 22477, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    18. Sauer, J.F., 2005. "“Efficiency Flooding”: Black-Box Frontiers and Policy Implications," International Journal of Applied Econometrics and Quantitative Studies, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 2(1), pages 17-52.
    19. Morteza Haghiri & James Nolan & Kien Tran, 2004. "Assessing the impact of economic liberalization across countries: a comparison of dairy industry efficiency in Canada and the USA," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(11), pages 1233-1243.
    20. Lambarraa, Fatima, 2011. "Dynamic Efficiency Analysis of Spanish Outdoor and Greenhouse Horticulture Sector," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland 114408, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    21. Ferrara, Giancarlo & Vidoli, Francesco, 2017. "Semiparametric stochastic frontier models: A generalized additive model approach," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 258(2), pages 761-777.
    22. Lambarraa, Fatima, 2012. "The Spanish Horticulture Sector: A dynamic efficiency analysis of Outdoor and Greenhouse farms," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 126797, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    23. Dios-Palomares, Rafaela & Martínez-Paz, José M., 2011. "Technical, quality and environmental efficiency of the olive oil industry," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 526-534, August.
    24. Yang, Sansi & Shumway, C. Richard, 2015. "Asset Fixity under State-Contingent Production Uncertainty," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205256, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.

    More about this item


    Key words: Stochastic frontiers; functional specifications; Box-Cox transformation; technical efficiency; Greek olive oil.; JEL Classification System Numbers: C12; C13; C23; C52; Q12;

    JEL classification:

    • C12 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Hypothesis Testing: General
    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • C52 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Evaluation, Validation, and Selection
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets


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