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The Efficiency of German Public Theaters: A Stochastic Frontier Analysis Approach


  • Anne-Kathrin Last

    () (Institute of Economics, University of Lüneburg)

  • Heike Wetzel

    () (Institute of Economics, University of Lüneburg)


In recent years the economic performance of public non-profit sectors such as cultural services has become an interesting economic issue. This is due to the high dependence of cultural institutions on public funding on the one hand and the increasing cost-pressure on public budgets on the other hand. In order to achieve an efficiently, cost-minimizing resource allocation public authorities who decide on the distribution of public budgets need reliable performance indicators. Against this background, this paper analyzes the efficiency of German public theaters for the seasons 1991/1992 to 2005/2006. Using a stochastic frontier analysis approach, we test whether the assumption of cost-minimizing behavior is reliable in this sector. Moreover, several panel data models that differ in their ability to account for unobserved heterogeneity are applied to evaluate the impact of unobserved heterogeneity on the efficiency estimates. The results indicate that the cost-minimizing assumption cannot be maintained. Consequently, an efficiency analysis based on a cost function approach seems inappropriate in the case of German public theaters. Further, we find a considerably unobserved heterogeneity across the theaters, which causes a significant variation in the models’ efficiency estimates. This implies that failing to account for unobserved heterogeneity leads to biased efficiency values. Overall, our results suggest that there is still space for improvement in the employment of resources in the sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Anne-Kathrin Last & Heike Wetzel, 2009. "The Efficiency of German Public Theaters: A Stochastic Frontier Analysis Approach," Working Paper Series in Economics 134, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lue:wpaper:134

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    4. Francisco Marco-Serrano, 2006. "Monitoring managerial efficiency in the performing arts: A regional theatres network perspective," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 145(1), pages 167-181, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Luis César Herrero-Prieto, 2013. "Is Museum Performance Affected By Location And Institution Type? Measuring Cultural Institution Efficiency Through Non-Parametric Techniques," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp425, IIIS.
    2. Víctor Fernández-Blanco & Ana Rodríguez-à lvarez & Aleksandra Wiśniewska, 2017. "Measuring Technical Efficiency and Marginal Costs in the Performing Arts: The Case of the Municipal Theatres of Warsaw," ACEI Working Paper Series AWP-09-2017, Association for Cultural Economics International, revised Oct 2017.
    3. Victor Fernandez-Blanco & Ana Rodriguez-Alvarez, 2015. "Measuring allocative efficiency in cultural economics: The case of Fundacion Princesa de Asturias," ACEI Working Paper Series AWP-09-2015, Association for Cultural Economics International, revised Oct 2015.
    4. Marta Zieba, 2013. "Is theatre efficiency affected by the legal form type? A case study of German public theatres," Working Papers WP032013, University of Limerick, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2013.
    5. Marta Zieba, 2011. "An Analysis of Technical Efficiency and Efficiency Factors for Austrian and Swiss Non-Profit Theatres," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 147(II), pages 233-274, June.
    6. Anne-Kathrin Last & Heike Wetzel, 2011. "Baumol’s cost disease, efficiency, and productivity in the performing arts: an analysis of german public theaters," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 35(3), pages 185-201, August.
    7. Joachim Wagner, 2010. "The Research Potential of New Types of Enterprise Data based on Surveys from Official Statistics in Germany," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 130(1), pages 133-142.
    8. repec:kap:jculte:v:42:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10824-016-9287-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Marta Zieba & Carol Newman, 2012. "Organisational Structure and Managerial Efficiency: A quasi-experimental analysis of German public theatres," Working Papers WP032012, University of Limerick, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2012.
    10. repec:lrk:eeaart:35_3_15 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Víctor Fernández-Blanco & Luis César Herrero & Juan Prieto-Rodríguez, 2013. "Performance of cultural heritage institutions," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage, chapter 24, pages i-i Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item


    Public theaters; efficiency; stochastic frontier analysis; input distance function; cultural economics;

    JEL classification:

    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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