The Cost Efficiency of Water Utilities: When Does Public Ownership Matter?
33 Pages Posted: 2 May 2015 Last revised: 9 Jan 2016
Date Written: October 14, 2015
This study explores the impact of different ownership types on the efficiency of the provision of water utilities. Theories and evidence have shown a puzzling relationship between ownership and performance. Moreover, relatively recent contributions (Andrews et al., 2011) have argued that this relationship can be further convoluted by the effect of organisational and environmental variables. The current study aims to contribute to this literature by providing some empirical evidence for Italy, by proposing a methodology that combines nonparametric efficiency estimation and cluster analysis. Our main findings indicate that privately owned utilities indirectly controlled by a public organisation reach the highest level of efficiency but, when size and geographical location enter the analysis, ownership has a stronger significant effect on efficiency, and mixed utilities gain higher cost efficiency. Therefore, we may conclude that administrative reforms about privatisation and the institutional setting should consider a set of variables that characterise each individual organisation.
Keywords: efficiency; geographical location; ownership; size; water utilities
JEL Classification: C14; L95; M41; G32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation