Research question: The most common result in the analysis of efficiency in multisport competitions like the Olympic Games using the data envelopment analysis (DEA) is a ranking of the participating countries. However, this approach does not consider the role played by sports federations, who administer sports at the national level, nor the intermediate stages needed to achieve sporting success. The objective of the present study is to analyze the relative efficiency of the Spanish Olympic Sports Federations, taking into account what occurs within the black box of these organizations.
Research methods: The relative efficiency of Spanish Olympic Sports Federations during the last three years (2010, 2011 and 2012) of the last Olympic cycle is measured by employing a relational network DEA model. This type of model can simultaneously calculate the efficiency of the system and its different stages to represent the eventual transformation of public and private financing into sport results.
Results and findings: The findings reveal that during the last Olympic cycle, the efficiency of the Federations in supporting the development of high-level athletes was greater than the effectiveness of those individuals when participated in the main international competitions. Moreover, the differences in efficiency distributions tend to disappear in the last year of the Olympic cycle.
Implications: These empirical findings provide the managers with useful information regarding the origins of system inefficiencies and their distribution throughout the Olympic cycle. This information can help them improve national sport programs.