On the use of archetypes as benchmarks

Giovanni C Porzio, Giancarlo Ragozini, Domenico Vistocco
(2008) Statistica, Vol. 3, 281-292, ISSN 0390-590X

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Benchmarking plays a relevant role in performance analysis, and statistical methods can be fruitfully exploited for its aims. While clustering, regression, and frontier analysis may serve some benchmarking purposes, we propose to consider archetypal analysis as a suitable technique. Archetypes are extreme points that synthesize data and that, in our opinion, can be profitably used as benchmarks. That is, they may be viewed as key reference performers in the comparison process. We suggest a three-step data driven benchmarking procedure, which enables users: (i) to identify some reference performers, (ii) to analyze their features, (iii) to compare observed performers with them. An exploratory point of view is preferred, and graphical devices are adopted throughout the procedure. Finally, our approach is presented by means of an illustrative example based on The Times league table of the world top 200 universities.