Strategic groups based on marginal rates : an application to the Spanish banking industry

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This paper uses Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) to identify strategic groups (SGs) in the Spanish banking industry. The concept of SG relies on the fact that firms grouped together value inputs and outputs in the same way. As such, they take identical direction when, due to external influences, changes are required. Weights obtained from DEA are extremely useful in the valuation of inputs and outputs. Specifically, by comparing DEA weights pair-wise, i.e. quantifying the variables’ marginal rates (MR), we can obtain a very good representation of the existent trade-off and the relative importance of the two variables. The paper uses MRs obtained through DEA models and, simultaneously, proposes feasible ways to overcome two usual problems with DEA virtual weights, namely: (1) the multiplicity of weights for efficient DMUs; and (2) the inexistence of dual variables for inefficient DMUs. From the empirical point of view, once the MRs are determined, the second stage is to perform Cluster Analysis. We apply Cluster Analysis in two ways: (1) on the basis of the MRs; and (2) following the traditional application by running Cluster Analysis with the original variables. The results obtained show the advantages of using MRs instead of the standard application of Cluster Analysis. Summing up, the concept of SG is reinforced if we use refined methods to determine the existence of SGs. The results of the application of DEA models to observe the presence of SG in the Spanish banking industry offer interesting views on it.
Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA), DEA weights, Banking, Strategic groups, Marginal rates
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European Journal of Operational Research, abril 2006, v. 170, n. 1, pp. 293-314