Indexed on: 21 Jul '18Published on: 20 Jul '18Published in: Journal of Business Ethics
India is the emerging country with the world’s greatest social banking program, so Indian banks are required to finance the weaker sectors of society that are excluded from the traditional financial system (priority sectors), while also providing mainstream banking services to non-priority sectors. For social banks to promote the ethical–social management of their dual mission and to be successful in today’s business environment, they must be as efficient as possible in both dimensions of their banking activity. Whereas the efficiency of Indian banks in the financial dimension is well understood, to date there has been no research evaluating their double bottom-line of achieving social and financial goals. Our study applies an innovative Network Slack-Based DEA model to evaluate how efficient Indian public banks are when providing credit to priority and non-priority sectors. We also explore the main factors influencing bank efficiency. Results suggest that Indian public banks have performed relatively well in both activities, although social efficiency has been slightly greater than financial efficiency. Moreover, their commitment to priority sector lending has not come into conflict with the profit-seeking objectives of mainstream banking services. As regards determinants of social and financial efficiency, there are countervailing forces played by regional wealth, bank size, branch networks, and rural location. Our findings are therefore useful for stakeholders of Indian public banks as they indicate if these entities have adequately managed their double bottom-line, and hence if they are critical for poverty alleviation and development in India.