International comparisons can be used to study relative efficiency of decision-making units in an industry in a wider context. In particular, cross-country comparisons can, help regulators of natural monopoly firms to assess the relative performance of their regulation regime and national firms with those of other countries. The relative performance of frontier firms is important as these may be subject to lax regulation and could constitute benchmarks for regulation of other firms. The results of empirical studies can be sensitive to the choice of techniques and models. The UK and Japanese electricity distribution utilities have been subject to yardstick regulation since 1990 and 1996 respectively. In this paper we present an analysis of the development and relative performance of electricity distribution utilities in the UK and Japan between 1985 and 1998. The results allow the examination of the impact of privatisation and regulation on the UK firms and their scope for further efficiency gains. The paper presents the findings from applying input distance functions with data envelopment analysis (DEA), stochastic frontier analysis (SFA), and corrected ordinary least square (COLS) techniques using cost based model specifications in a dynamic setting.
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