Sustainable value assessment of farms using frontier efficiency benchmarks
Van Passel, Steven × Van Huylenbroeck, Guido Lauwers, Ludwig Mathijs, Erik #
Academic press ltd elsevier science ltd
Journal of environmental management vol:90 issue:10 pages:3057-3069
Appropriate assessment of firm sustainability facilitates actor-driven processes towards sustainable development. The methodology in this paper builds further on two proven methodologies for the assessment of sustainability performance: it combines the sustainable value approach with frontier efficiency benchmarks. The sustainable value methodology tries to relate firm performance to the use of different resources. This approach assesses contributions to corporate sustainability by comparing firm resource productivity with the resource productivity of a benchmark, and this for all resources considered. The efficiency is calculated by estimating the production frontier indicating the maximum feasible production possibilities. In this research, the sustainable value approach is combined with efficiency analysis methods to benchmark sustainability assessment. In this way, the production theoretical underpinnings of efficiency analysis enrich the sustainable value approach. The methodology is presented using two different functional forms: the Cobb-Douglas and the translog functional forms. The simplicity of the Cobb-Douglas functional form as benchmark is very attractive but it lacks flexibility. The translog functional form is more flexible but has the disadvantage that it requires a lot of data to avoid estimation problems. Using frontier methods for deriving firm specific benchmarks has the advantage that the particular situation of each company is taken into account when assessing sustainability. Finally, we showed that the methodology can be used as an integrative sustainability assessment tool for policy measures. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.