DEFINITION of X-efficiency

X-efficiency refers to a company’s inability to get the maximum output for its inputs due to a lack of competitive pressure.


X-efficiency and X-inefficiency refer to the ability or inability of a business to achieve maximum output for its inputs. The ‘inability’ is due to a lack of competition in the market, or a lack of desire to compete aggressively. When commercial enterprises are not very competitive, as may occur in a monopoly, duopoly, or a market without many competitors, many of the workers and members of senior management tend not to behave as efficiently.

In simple words, X-efficiency is the degree of efficiency that companies and people under conditions of imperfect competition maintain.

In a market where lots of competition exists – where there is **perfect competition – companies are encouraged to seek productive efficiency gains and produce at lowest unit costs, otherwise, they will probably lose sales to more efficient competitors.

Where there is defective competition, as occurs in a monopoly or duopoly, productive inefficiency may persist, because the lone producer can still thrive with inefficient production techniques.


The concept of X-efficiency suggests that we do not always maximize utility. Meaning, we do not always choose the most efficient option.

Some of 98% of all organizations do not really understand what ‘true efficiency’ really is. Because they have the tendency to focus too much on individual and functional performance.