Research in Higher Education

, Volume 59, Issue 2, pp 156–173 | Cite as

Explaining Estimated Economies of Scale and Scope in Higher Education: A Meta-Regression Analysis



Numerous studies have investigated economies of scale and scope in higher education as a means of providing public and private providers of college and university teaching, research and other services and their stakeholders with knowledge of the cost structures that underpin provision in this economically and socially important sector. However, debate continues on the precise nature of the economies of scale and scope in higher education given the mixed findings, largely because of significant institutional and other differences across studies. To address this, we employ meta-regression analysis to explore not only the overall level of scale and scope economies across more than 40 international studies conducted in Australia, the US, the UK, Italy, China, and elsewhere since the early 1980s, but also those factors that potentially affect their presence in the higher education sector. Our findings suggest that functional form and allowances for managerial efficiency have a significant impact on the estimated scale economies. In contrast, for scope economies, the key discriminating factors appear to be when the analysis was conducted, the diversity of the sample, and the national level of economic development.


Economies of scale Economies of scope Meta-regression analysis Higher education 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Accounting, Finance and EconomicsGriffith UniversityNathanAustralia
  2. 2.Australian Council for Educational ResearchCamberwellAustralia

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