Measurement of returns-to-scale using interval data envelopment analysis models

Adel Hatami-Marbini, Zahra Ghelej Beigi, Jens Leth Hougaard, Kobra Gholami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The economic concept of Returns-to-Scale (RTS) has been intensively studied in the context of Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA). The conventional DEA models that are used for RTS classification require well-defined and accurate data whereas in reality observations gathered from production systems may be characterised by intervals. For instance, the heat losses of the Combined production of Heat and Power (CHP) systems may be within a certain range, hinging on a wide variety of factors such as external temperature and real-time energy demand. Enriching the current literature independently tackling the two problems; interval data and RTS estimation; we develop an overarching evaluation process for estimating RTS of Decision Making Units (DMUs) in Imprecise DEA (IDEA) where the input and output data lie within bounded intervals. In the presence of interval data, we introduce six types of RTS involving increasing, decreasing, constant, non-increasing, non-decreasing and variable RTS. The situation for non-increasing (non-decreasing) RTS is then divided into two partitions; constant or decreasing (constant or increasing) RTS using sensitivity analysis. Additionally, the situation for variable RTS is split into three partitions consisting of constant, decreasing and increasing RTS using sensitivity analysis. Besides, we present the stability region of an observation while preserving its current RTS classification using the optimal values of a set of proposed DEA-based models. The applicability and efficacy of the developed approach is finally studied through two numerical examples and a case study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-107
Number of pages14
JournalComputers and Industrial Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


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