Economic Efficiency and Benchmarking

Course content

Assessing the efficiency of resource utilization is important, as this is the first step in subsequently improving the performance. This is relevant in both the private sector, due to the intensity of competition, and also in the public sector, where budget cuts and demands for improved efficiency are common.

This course covers specific benchmarking methods that are very useful in practice for evaluating the relative performance of different organizational units. Specifically, the course will focus on the non-parametric Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) approach, and other related approaches. As well as providing measures for the extent of the (in)efficiency, DEA also identifies role model units which less efficient units can emulate, as well as performance targets at which inefficient units might aim.  Benchmarking analysis thus supports the identification and adoption of operating practices conducive to efficient utilization of resources. Efficient resource utilization is generally important for sustainability, but the flexibility of DEA- and related models also allows for explicit incorporation of undesirable outputs from production, such as pollution, CO2 emissions etc. when benchmarking performance.

Besides covering both theoretical and practical aspects of the use of DEA, the course also looks at some real life empirical applications, in both private and public sector organizations.


MSc Programme in Agricultural Economics
MSc Programme in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

MSc Programme in Mathematics-Economics


Learning outcome

The primary objective of the course is to provide the students with relevant knowledge, practical skills, and competences in benchmarking analysis using non-parametric approaches like Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA).

After completing the course the student should be able to:

Students are expected to be able to

  • Explain the differences between different DEA model specifications and justify the choices of specific models for a given problem context.
  • Explain the differences between the envelopment and multiplier formulations of the DEA models and their respective uses.
  • Argue for the relevance of different model extensions for specific scenarios, including but not limited to the use of weight restrictions and different projections onto the efficiency frontier.

Students are expected to be able to

  • Calculate efficiency scores and identify the corresponding benchmarks, peers & weights in simple examples.
  • Use appropriate software to conduct empirical benchmarking analysis.
  • Interpret the results from benchmarking analysis and discuss their implications for management.

Students are expected to be able to

  • Use non-parametric benchmarking techniques to investigate various real-life empirical issues.
  • Critically evaluate the appropriateness of specific non-parametric benchmarking modelling approaches for a given practical scenario and the corresponding results.
  • Achieve digital competences w.r.t. data collection & handling, empirical analysis and use of appropriate software.

The course will involve combinations of lectures, small examples and exercises done in class.

Students need knowledge and competences in basic microeconomic production theory in order to successfully participate in this course. These competences can, for example, be obtained by attending the courses LOJB10259 (Mikroøkonomi) and LOJF10262 (Produktionsøkonomi).

Competences and interest in data handling and empirical analysis are recommended.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)

Besides the oral examination, including justifications for the given marks, there will be the following forms of feedback during the course:

Discussions and answering questions during lectures.

Discussions and answering questions related to solving exercises.

Supervision of (ie discussing and answering questions related to) the analysis that will be done for the synopsis.


7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 minutes
Type of assessment details
Individual oral presentation of the report and examination. No preparation time.
Exam registration requirements

The student must hand in a written (group) report.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

The same as the ordinary exam.

If the student has not handed in the project report, then it must be handed in individually instead of in a group, three weeks prior to the re-exam. It must be approved before the exam.

Criteria for exam assessment

To receive a mark of 12 the student have to show complete fulfillment of the learning outcomes.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 32
  • Preparation
  • 75
  • Practical exercises
  • 28
  • Project work
  • 60
  • Exam Preparation
  • 10
  • Exam
  • 1
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 2
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Study Board of Natural Resources, Environment and Animal Science
Contracting department
  • Department of Food and Resource Economics
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Mette Asmild   (4-6f676375426b687471306d7730666d)
Saved on the 28-02-2023

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