This study employs the newly developed stochastic metafrontier production function by Huang et al. (A new approach to estimating the metafrontier production function based on a stochastic frontier framework. Working paper, Vanderbilt University, National Cheng-chi University, Taiwan, 2012) to compare the technical efficiencies of accounting firms (AFs) among the US, China, and Taiwan, operating under different technologies. Although AFs play an important role in a nation’s capital market, the accounting industry has not attracted much attention to academic researchers. The main difference between the stochastic metafrontier function and the one proposed by Battese et al. (J Prod Anal 21:91–103, 2004) and O’Donnell et al. (Empir Econ 34:231–255, 2008) lies in the second step, where the stochastic frontier approach (SFA) is recommended instead of programming techniques. Taiwan’s AFs are found to have the highest average metafrontier technical efficiency (MTE) and AFs in the US have the highest technology gap ratio (TGR). Nonetheless, the average TGR and MTE values of American AFs are closer to those of Taiwan. The low performance of Chinese AFs may be attributed to government regulations and the lack of market competition. However, the programming technique suggests reverse results for AFs in Taiwan and the US and larger variances for TGR and MTE. Then these three countries’ AFs show decreasing returns to scale, indicating that mergers and acquisitions may not be advantageous for expanding their production scale.
Journal of Productivity Analysis 44(3), pp.337-349