The efficiency of the European banking groups and its determinants

Stefano Dell'Atti (Department of Economics, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy)
Vincenzo Pacelli (Department of Economics, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy)
Gilda Mazzarelli (Department of Management, University of Rome "La Sapienza", Rome, Italy)

Managerial Finance

ISSN: 0307-4358

Publication date: 13 July 2015



The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, it aims to measure and compare the efficiency change of French, German, Italian, Spanish and UK banking groups in a context of financial crisis, over the period 2006-2010; second, it attempts to analyse the internal and environmental determinants of banking groups efficiency.


In this paper the efficiency is estimated by a two-stage semi-parametric procedure. In the first stage, we build a common production frontier across countries using the data envelopment analysis (DEA) (Debreu, 1951; Farrell, 1957). To further analyse the efficiency changes over years we use the Malmquist total factor productivity index, based on DEA technique. In the second stage, in order to determine the factors that impact on bank efficiency, the authors perform a bootstrapped truncated regression model with discretionary inputs as independent variables, following Simar and Wilson (2007).


The empirical results show that overall the “large” banking groups are more efficient than the “small” ones. However the Malmquist total factor productivity analysis highlights that during the crisis, in particular between 2007 and 2009, unless Britain, in all countries the small banks show a better cost performance than the larger ones. In general, the authors find a moderate efficiency convergence between countries and between large and small banking groups. As regards the determinants of banking groups efficiency, we find that more liquid, less capitalized banking groups and those more oriented towards the traditional activity of lending are more efficient.

Practical implications

The authors find a positive and high statistically significant relationship between both long- and short-term liquidity degree and the cost efficiency of the banking groups. The policy implication of this result is very significative also in the light of the new banking regulation introduced by Basel III that imposes new rules to strengthen the liquidity risk management.

Social implications

The authors find that the macroeconomic environment variables have some impact on efficiency: the higher the debt and the GDP per capita of the country the lower the bank’s efficiency.


Unlike the most literature on this topic, that usually considers individual banks even if they belong to the same financial conglomerate, the authors analyse only banking groups. In particular, the authors consider all banking groups belonging to the most industrialized European countries in a context of financial crisis and cross-border aggregation movements. Furhermore the authors compare cross-country cost performance of small and large groups, considering the loan loss provisions as an additional input in order to correct the efficiency score for credit risk.



The authors acknowledge to Professor Elena Beccalli for her thoughtful and constructive suggestions. They also thank the anonymous reviewers for their useful suggestions and comments. Although the research has been conducted jointly by the three authors, paragraphs 1 and 2 can be attributed to Stefano Dell’Atti, paragraphs 3, 4 and 6 can be attributed to Vincenzo Pacelli, while paragraph 5 is due to Gilda Mazzarelli.


Dell'Atti, S., Pacelli, V. and Mazzarelli, G. (2015), "The efficiency of the European banking groups and its determinants", Managerial Finance, Vol. 41 No. 7, pp. 734-751.

Download as .RIS



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.