What is the Difference between Efficiency and Effectiveness

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Unit 9 

Introduction | What is the Difference between Efficiency and Effectiveness | Efficiency | Cost-Effectiveness | Cost-Effectiveness of ODL Institutions | Making the Case for ODL

What is the Difference between Efficiency and Effectiveness?

Before going any further, it is important to clarify what we mean by the terms efficiency and effectiveness.


Definition


Effectiveness is the extent to which an organisation or programme produces particular outputs (which are concrete and measurable) or outcomes (which may not be measurable).


When an organisation or programme meets its own goals, this is generally referred to as internal effectiveness. However, there are numerous examples of programmes that have high internal effectiveness yet fail to meet the broader needs of society as a whole. For example, the formal education system may be internally effective by producing a very high pass rate in terminal examinations, but employers often complain that young people are not adequately prepared for the ‘world of work’.

When an education system produces ‘graduates’ who are well prepared for the multiple demands placed upon them outside of school, then it is said to have high external effectiveness.

In popular usage, efficiency is linked with money and is used to express how expensive or inexpensive something is to produce per unit.


Definition


For the purpose of this discussion, efficiency is defined as the extent to which an organisation or programme maintains a particular level of production with fewer resources or increases the level of goods or services it produces with a less than proportionate increase in the resources used (cf. Rumble, 1986, page 211).


This definition suggests that efficiency in ODL is concerned not only with resources (materials, labour, equipment and the costs associated with them), but also with what is produced (courses, study materials or student enrolments). It also highlights two different ways of achieving greater efficiency. On the one hand, we can try to reduce the costs incurred to provide the same level of educational services for a given number of students; this is referred to as economic efficiency. On the other hand, the term production efficiency is used to refer to producing more goods or services without incurring additional costs (or, at least, without increasing costs at the same rate).

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