Multi-objective optimization approaches to efficiency assessment and target setting for bank branches

  • Cong Xu

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis focuses on combining data envelopment analysis (DEA) and multi-objective linear programming (MOLP) methods to set targets by referencing peers’ performances and decision-makers’ (DMs) preferences. A large number of past papers have proven the importance of a company having a target; however, obtaining a feasible but challenging target has always been a difficult topic for companies. Since DEA was proposed in 1978, it has become one of the most popular performance assessment tools. The performance possibility set and efficient frontier established by DEA provide solid and scientific reference information for managers to evaluate an individual’s efficiency. Based on the successful experience of DEA in performance assessment, many scholars have mentioned that DEA can be used to set appropriate targets as well; however, traditional DEA models do not include DMs’ preference information that is crucial to a target-setting process. Therefore, several MOLP methods have been introduced to include DMs’ preferences in the target-setting process based on the DEA efficient frontier and performance possibility set. The trade-off-based method is one of the most popular interactive methods that have been incorporated with DEA. However, there are several gaps in the current research: (1) the trade-off-based method could take so many interactions that no DMs could finish the interactive process; (2) DMs might find it very difficult to provide the preference information required by MOLP models; and (3) DMs cannot have an intuitive view in terms of the efficient frontier. Regarding the gaps above, this thesis proposes three new trade-off-based interactive target-setting models based on the DEA performance possibility set and efficient frontier to improve DMs’ experience when setting targets. The three models can work independently or can be combined during the decision-making process. The piecewise linear model uses a piecewise linear assumption to simulate DMs’ real utility function. It gradually narrows down the region that could contain DMs’ most-preferred solution (MPS) until it reaches an acceptable range. This model could help DMs who have limited time for interaction but want to have a global view of the entire efficient frontier. This model has also been proven very helpful when DMs are not sensitive to close efficient solutions. The prioritized trade-off model provides a new way for a DM to know about the efficient frontier, which allows the DM to explore the efficient frontier following the preferred direction with a series of trade-off tables and trade-off figures as visual aids. The stepwise trade-off model focuses on situations where the number of objectives (outputs/inputs for the DEA model) is quite large and DMs cannot provide all indifference trade-offs between all the objectives simultaneously. To release the DMs’ burden, the stepwise model starts from two objectives and gradually includes new objectives in the decision-making process, with the assumption that the indifference trade-offs between previous objectives are fixed, until all objectives are included. All three models have been validated through numerical examples and case studies of a Chinese state-owned bank to help DMs to explore their MPS in the DEA production possibility set.
Date of Award1 Aug 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJian-Bo Yang (Supervisor) & Yu-Wang Chen (Supervisor)


  • Data Envelopment Analysis
  • Multi-objective Linear Programming

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