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Technical efficiency refers to the situation where it is impossible for a firm to produce, with the given know-how, (1) a larger output from the same inputs or (2) the same output with less of one or more inputs without increasing the amount of other inputs. In practice, the interest is on the relative position in terms of efficiency of a particular firm with respect to others. Therefore, technical efficiency is characterised by the relationship between observed production and some ideal or potential production (Greene, 1993). Although the beginning of the efficiency work can be traced to the 1950s (Farrell, 1957), there have been a growing interest on its use in benchmarking performance, predominantly as a means of identifying best practice and improving the efficiency of resource use within the agricultural industry (e.g., Defra 2004, SAC 2009). This paper deals with the estimation of technical efficiency for the agricultural sectors in several European countries and moreover, it aims to compare the efficiency amongst them using a metafrontier analysis. The use of this type of analysis is justified because a frontier, which represents the best available technology within a particular region/country cannot be strictly compared across other regions/countries, unless they operate under the same production set. The metafrontier analysis has been developed in a number of studies (Battese and Rao, 2002; Nkamleu et al., 2006; Chen and Song, 2006; O‟Donnell et al., 2008.) The metafrontier analysis in this paper, which uses data from the Farm Accountancy data Network (FADN), was focused on four farm types: two specialised farming types (i.e., specialist cereals, oilseed and protein crops and specialist dairying) and two more mixed farming sets (i.e., general field cropping and mixed farms), and was applied to a total of 11 countries namely Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK. For most of the countries the information was available from 1995 until 2007, excepting Hungary and Poland, for which it was available only since 2004. Also note that not all the farm types were available for all the countries. The structure of the paper is as follows: it starts presenting an overview of the metafrontier analysis used to compare technical efficiency amongst the European countries. It is followed by the empirical work, which comprises a description of the data used, the estimation and discussion of the results. Finally we present conclusions.


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