Library & Information Science Research vol:36 issue:3-4 pages:211-224
Being faced with significant budget cuts and continual pressure to do more with less, issues of efficiency and effectiveness became a priority for local governments in most countries. In this context, benchmarking is widely acknowledged as a powerful tool for local performance management and for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of local service delivery. Performance benchmarking exercises are regularly carried out using ratio analysis, by comparing single indicators. Since this approach offers only limited assessments in absolute terms, it is difficult for decision-makers to track and improve overall performance. Therefore, the use of non-parametric frontier methods, namely free disposal hull (FDH) and data envelopment analysis (DEA) is presented as an alternative technique for benchmarking the performance of organizations in relative terms. The potential applications and strengths of these non-parametric frontier methods for benchmarking the efficiency of local public services are highlighted by applying FDH and DEA techniques to the local public libraries in Flanders. Incorporating all possible paths of expansion – both in space and in time – enables a focus on sustainability within efficiency benchmarking.