A unified productivity-performance approach applied to secondary schools

L. Cherchye, K. De Witte*, S. Perelman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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We introduce a novel diagnostic tool to improve the performance of public services. We propose a method to compute performance/productivity ratios, which can be applied as soon as data on production units' outcomes and resources are available. Assuming outcome improvement as the main objective in a public services context, these ratios have an intuitive interpretation: values below unity indicate that better outcomes can be attained through weaker resource constraints (pointing at scarcity of resources) and, conversely, values above unity indicate that better outcomes can be achieved with the given resources (pointing at unexploited production capacity). We demonstrate the practical usefulness of our methodology through an application to secondary schools, where we account for outlier behaviour and environmental effects by using a robust nonparametric estimation method. Our results indicate that in most cases schools' performance improvement is a matter of unexploited production capacity, while scarcity of resources is a lesser issue.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1522-1537
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Operational Research Society
Issue number9
Early online date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2019

JEL classifications

  • i21 - Analysis of Education
  • j24 - "Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity"


  • Performance
  • productivity
  • resource constraints
  • secondary schools
  • Flow measurement
  • Non-parametric estimations
  • Novel diagnostics
  • Outcome improvement
  • Production capacity
  • Productivity performance
  • Resource Constraint
  • Secondary schools
  • Productivity

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