General Multi-Stage Systems
The preceding two chapters discussed systems with two divisions connected in series. Intuitively, the two-stage system should be able to be extended to multiple stages to suit more general cases. As a matter of fact, many real world systems have a multi-stage structure, with assembly lines as typical examples, where raw materials go through a number of work stations to become the final products. The meaning of multi-stage system in this context is rather vague, because a stage may have several divisions connected in different structures. What it refers to in the conventional network DEA is a system composed of a number of divisions connected in series, with only one division in each stage. In this regard, the term series system may be more appropriate, and in this chapter these two terms will be used interchangeably when there is no ambiguity.
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