Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

David Anderson

Committee Member

James Berry

Committee Member

Murali Nair

Committee Member

William Price


This research explored the technical inefficiency of 813 private, not-for-profit, four-year, bachelor’s and master’s colleges and universities in the U.S. using data from 2006 to 2011. The goal of the study was to describe and explain the level of technical inefficiency in this group of institutions that can be identified using a stochastic frontier estimation (SFE) method and to evaluate the applicability of SFE to higher education. Categories of expenditures were utilized to create a production frontier against which the inefficiency of individual institutions to produce degreed students was measured. The analysis using panel data showed this sector of higher education is operating with a mean technical inefficiency of 21%. Instructional expenditures had a positive effect on inefficiency while institutional support and student services had a slight negative effect on inefficiency. It was concluded that the SFE can be used to provide a reliable relative measure of technical inefficiency in higher education. The SFE can be useful in guiding decision makers by giving them a way to compare themselves with institutions of similar characteristics and competing in the same market.

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