Data envelopment analysis as method for evaluating intellectual capital

Karl‐Heinz Leitner (Department of Technology Policy, ARC Systems Research GmbH, Seibersdorf, Austria)
Michaela Schaffhauser‐Linzatti (Faculty of Business, Economics and Statistics, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria)
Rainer Stowasser (Office Austrian Science Board, Vienna, Austria)
Karin Wagner (Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), Vienna, Austria)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Publication date: 1 December 2005



The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the usefulness of data envelopment analysis (DEA) as a consulting and management tool that fulfils the requirements of quantitatively and comprehensively evaluating and benchmarking the efficiency of intellectual capital (IC).


DEA is applied for a sample of input and output data of all technical and natural science departments of Austrian universities. Correlation and factor analyses are carried out to select appropriate variables of the sample. DEA estimates the production function of the units under evaluation in relation to peer units, which are identified as fully efficient.


Results illustrate the existence of scale efficiencies of Austrian university departments and show a large heterogeneity within and among universities as well as between different fields of study with respect to their efficiency.

Research limitations/implications

DEA is mainly appropriate for larger samples inside an organisation or among different organisations. The method can be easily transferred to similar management situations in other types of organisations or industries, where the efficiency of IC should be assessed.

Practical implications

The results reveal detailed improvement or reduction amounts of each input and output of the evaluated organisational units and indicate areas for managerial action at Austrian universities.


For the first time DEA is applied for evaluating and benchmarking IC of Austrian universities. DEA is proposed as consulting and management tool for evaluation IC performance.



Leitner, K., Schaffhauser‐Linzatti, M., Stowasser, R. and Wagner, K. (2005), "Data envelopment analysis as method for evaluating intellectual capital", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 6 No. 4, pp. 528-543.

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