In microeconomics, economies of scale are the cost advantages that enterprises obtain due to their scale of operation (typically measured by amount of output produced), with cost per unit of output decreasing with increasing scale. (In economics, "scale" is synonymous with quantity.)
Microeconomics is a branch of economics that studies the behaviour of individuals and firms in making decisions regarding the allocation of scarce resources and the interactions among these individuals and firms.
Economies of scale apply to a variety of organizational and business situations and at various levels, such as a business or manufacturing unit, plant or an entire enterprise. When average costs start falling as output increases, then economies of scale are occurring. If a firm's marginal cost of producing a good or service is beneath its average cost of producing that good or service, then the firm is experiencing economies of scale. Some economies of scale, such as capital cost of manufacturing facilities and friction loss of transportation and industrial equipment, have a physical or engineering basis.
In economics, marginal cost is the change in the total cost that arises when the quantity produced is incremented by one unit; that is, it is the cost of producing one more unit of a good. Intuitively, marginal cost at each level of production includes the cost of any additional inputs required to produce the next unit. At each level of production and time period being considered, marginal costs include all costs that vary with the level of production, whereas other costs that do not vary with production are fixed and thus have no marginal cost. For example, the marginal cost of producing an automobile will generally include the costs of labor and parts needed for the additional automobile and not the fixed costs of the factory that have already been incurred. In practice, marginal analysis is segregated into short and long-run cases, so that, over the long run, all costs become marginal.
In economics, average cost or unit cost is equal to total cost (TC) divided by the number of unit of a good produced :
Another source of scale economies is the possibility of purchasing inputs at a lower per-unit cost when they are purchased in large quantities.
The economic concept dates back to Adam Smith and the idea of obtaining larger production returns through the use of division of labor.Diseconomies of scale are the opposite.
Adam Smith was a Scottish economist, philosopher and author as well as a moral philosopher, a pioneer of political economy and a key figure during the Scottish Enlightenment. Smith wrote two classic works, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). The latter, often abbreviated as The Wealth of Nations, is considered his magnum opus and the first modern work of economics.
In microeconomics, diseconomies of scale are the cost disadvantages that firms and governments accrue due to an increase in firm size or output, resulting in production of goods and services at increased per-unit costs. The concept of diseconomies of scale is the opposite of economies of scale. In business, diseconomies of scale are the features that lead to an increase in average costs as a business grows beyond a certain size.
Economies of scale often have limits, such as passing the optimum design point where costs per additional unit begin to increase. Common limits include exceeding the nearby raw material supply, such as wood in the lumber, pulp and paper industry. A common limit for low cost per unit weight commodities is saturating the regional market, thus having to ship product uneconomical distances. Other limits include using energy less efficiently or having a higher defect rate.
The pulp and paper industry comprises companies that use wood as raw material and produce pulp, paper, paperboard and other cellulose-based products.
Large producers are usually efficient at long runs of a product grade (a commodity) and find it costly to switch grades frequently. They will therefore avoid specialty grades even though they have higher margins. Often smaller (usually older) manufacturing facilities remain viable by changing from commodity grade production to specialty products.
The simple meaning of economies of scale is doing things more efficiently with increasing size or speed of operation.Economies of scale often rely on fixed costs, which are constant and don't vary with output, and variable costs, which can be affected with the amount of output. In wholesale and retail distribution, increasing the speed of operations, such as order fulfillment, lowers the cost of both fixed and working capital. Other common sources of economies of scale are purchasing (bulk buying of materials through long-term contracts), managerial (increasing the specialization of managers), financial (obtaining lower-interest charges when borrowing from banks and having access to a greater range of financial instruments), marketing (spreading the cost of advertising over a greater range of output in media markets), and technological (taking advantage of returns to scale in the production function). Each of these factors reduces the long run average costs (LRAC) of production by shifting the short-run average total cost (SRATC) curve down and to the right.
In economics, fixed costs, indirect costs or overheads are business expenses that are not dependent on the level of goods or services produced by the business. They tend to be time-related, such as interest or rents being paid per month, and are often referred to as overhead costs. This is in contrast to variable costs, which are volume-related and unknown at the beginning of the accounting year. For a simple example, such as a bakery, the monthly rent for the baking facilities, and the monthly payments for the security system and basic phone line are fixed costs, as they do not change according to how much bread the bakery produces and sells. On the other hand, the wage costs of the bakery are variable, as the bakery will have to hire more workers if the production of bread increases. Economists reckon fixed cost as a entry barrier for new entrepreneurs.
Variable costs are costs that change as the quantity of the good or service that a business produces changes. Variable costs are the sum of marginal costs over all units produced. They can also be considered normal costs. Fixed costs and variable costs make up the two components of total cost. Direct costs, however, are costs that can easily be associated with a particular cost object. However, not all variable costs are direct costs. For example, variable manufacturing overhead costs are variable costs that are indirect costs, not direct costs. Variable costs are sometimes called unit-level costs as they vary with the number of units produced.
Working capital is a financial metric which represents operating liquidity available to a business, organisation or other entity, including governmental entities. Along with fixed assets such as plant and equipment, working capital is considered a part of operating capital. Gross working capital is equal to current assets. Working capital is calculated as current assets minus current liabilities. If current assets are less than current liabilities, an entity has a working capital deficiency, also called a working capital deficit.
Economies of scale is a practical concept that may explain real-world phenomena such as patterns of international trade or the number of firms in a market. The exploitation of economies of scale helps explain why companies grow large in some industries. It is also a justification for free trade policies, since some economies of scale may require a larger market than is possible within a particular country—for example, it would not be efficient for Liechtenstein to have its own carmaker if they only sold to their local market. A lone carmaker may be profitable, but even more so if they exported cars to global markets in addition to selling to the local market. Economies of scale also play a role in a "natural monopoly". There is a distinction between two types of economies of scale: internal and external. An industry that exhibits an internal economy of scale is one where the costs of production fall when the number of firms in the industry drops, but the remaining firms increase their production to match previous levels. Conversely, an industry exhibits an external economy of scale when costs drop due to the introduction of more firms, thus allowing for more efficient use of specialized services and machinery.
The management thinker and translator of the Toyota Production System for service, Professor John Seddon, argues that attempting to create economies by increasing scale is powered by myth in the service sector. Instead, he believes that economies will come from improving the flow of a service, from the first receipt of a customer’s demand to the eventual satisfaction of that demand. In trying to manage and reduce unit costs, firms often raise total costs by creating failure demand. Seddon claims that arguments for an economy of scale are a mix of (a) the plausibly obvious and (b) a little hard data, brought together to produce two broad assertions, for which there is little hard factual evidence.
Some of the economies of scale recognized in engineering have a physical basis, such as the square-cube law, by which the surface of a vessel increases by the square of the dimensions while the volume increases by the cube. This law has a direct effect on the capital cost of such things as buildings, factories, pipelines, ships and airplanes.
In structural engineering, the strength of beams increases with the cube of the thickness.
Drag loss of vehicles like aircraft or ships generally increases less than proportional with increasing cargo volume, although the physical details can be quite complicated. Therefore, making them larger usually results in less fuel consumption per ton of cargo at a given speed.
Heat losses from industrial processes vary per unit of volume for pipes, tanks and other vessels in a relationship somewhat similar to the square-cube law.
Overall costs of capital projects are known to be subject to economies of scale. A crude estimate is that if the capital cost for a given sized piece of equipment is known, changing the size will change the capital cost by the 0.6 power of the capacity ratio (the point six power rule).
In estimating capital cost, it typically requires an insignificant amount of labor, and possibly not much more in materials, to install a larger capacity electrical wire or pipe having significantly greater capacity.
The cost of a unit of capacity of many types of equipment, such as electric motors, centrifugal pumps, diesel and gasoline engines, decreases as size increases. Also, the efficiency increases with size.
Operating crew size for ships, airplanes, trains, etc., does not increase in direct proportion to capacity.(Operating crew consists of pilots, co-pilots, navigators, etc. and does not include passenger service personnel.) Many aircraft models were significantly lengthened or "stretched" to increase payload.
Many manufacturing facilities, especially those making bulk materials like chemicals, refined petroleum products, cement and paper, have labor requirements that are not greatly influenced by changes in plant capacity. This is because labor requirements of automated processes tend to be based on the complexity of the operation rather than production rate, and many manufacturing facilities have nearly the same basic number of processing steps and pieces of equipment, regardless of production capacity.
Karl Marx noted that large scale manufacturing allowed economical use of products that would otherwise be waste.Marx cited the chemical industry as an example, which today along with petrochemicals, remains highly dependent on turning various residual reactant streams into salable products. In the pulp and paper industry it is economical to burn bark and fine wood particles to produce process steam and to recover the spent pulping chemicals for conversion back to a usable form.
Economies of scale is related to and can easily be confused with the theoretical economic notion of returns to scale. Where economies of scale refer to a firm's costs, returns to scale describe the relationship between inputs and outputs in a long-run (all inputs variable) production function. A production function has constant returns to scale if increasing all inputs by some proportion results in output increasing by that same proportion. Returns are decreasing if, say, doubling inputs results in less than double the output, and increasing if more than double the output. If a mathematical function is used to represent the production function, and if that production function is homogeneous, returns to scale are represented by the degree of homogeneity of the function. Homogeneous production functions with constant returns to scale are first degree homogeneous, increasing returns to scale are represented by degrees of homogeneity greater than one, and decreasing returns to scale by degrees of homogeneity less than one.
If the firm is a perfect competitor in all input markets, and thus the per-unit prices of all its inputs are unaffected by how much of the inputs the firm purchases, then it can be shown that at a particular level of output, the firm has economies of scale if and only if it has increasing returns to scale, has diseconomies of scale if and only if it has decreasing returns to scale, and has neither economies nor diseconomies of scale if it has constant returns to scale.In this case, with perfect competition in the output market the long-run equilibrium will involve all firms operating at the minimum point of their long-run average cost curves (i.e., at the borderline between economies and diseconomies of scale).
If, however, the firm is not a perfect competitor in the input markets, then the above conclusions are modified. For example, if there are increasing returns to scale in some range of output levels, but the firm is so big in one or more input markets that increasing its purchases of an input drives up the input's per-unit cost, then the firm could have diseconomies of scale in that range of output levels. Conversely, if the firm is able to get bulk discounts of an input, then it could have economies of scale in some range of output levels even if it has decreasing returns in production in that output range.
The literature assumed that due to the competitive nature of reverse auctions, and in order to compensate for lower prices and lower margins, suppliers seek higher volumes to maintain or increase the total revenue. Buyers, in turn, benefit from the lower transaction costs and economies of scale that result from larger volumes. In part as a result, numerous studies have indicated that the procurement volume must be sufficiently high to provide sufficient profits to attract enough suppliers, and provide buyers with enough savings to cover their additional costs.
However, surprisingly enough, Shalev and Asbjornse found, in their research based on 139 reverse auctions conducted in the public sector by public sector buyers, that the higher auction volume, or economies of scale, did not lead to better success of the auction. They found that auction volume did not correlate with competition, nor with the number of bidders, suggesting that auction volume does not promote additional competition. They noted, however, that their data included a wide range of products, and the degree of competition in each market varied significantly, and offer that further research on this issue should be conducted to determine whether these findings remain the same when purchasing the same product for both small and high volumes. Keeping competitive factors constant, increasing auction volume may further increase competition.
In his 1844 Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts , Karl Marx observes that economies of scale have historically been associated with an increasing concentration of private wealth and have been used to justify such concentration. Marx points out that concentrated private ownership of large-scale economic enterprises is a historically contingent fact, and not essential to the nature of such enterprises. In the case of agriculture, for example, Marx calls attention to the sophistical nature of the arguments used to justify the system of concentrated ownership of land:
Instead of concentrated private ownership of land, Marx recommends that economies of scale should instead be realized by associations:
In economics, specifically general equilibrium theory, a perfect market is defined by several idealizing conditions, collectively called perfect competition. In theoretical models where conditions of perfect competition hold, it has been theoretically demonstrated that a market will reach an equilibrium in which the quantity supplied for every product or service, including labor, equals the quantity demanded at the current price. This equilibrium will be a Pareto optimum, meaning that nobody can be made better off by exchange without making someone else worse off.
In economics, profit maximization is the short run or long run process by which a firm may determine the price, input, and output levels that lead to the greatest profit. Neoclassical economics, currently the mainstream approach to microeconomics, usually models the firm as maximizing profit.
In economics, the cost-of-production theory of value is the theory that the price of an object or condition is determined by the sum of the cost of the resources that went into making it. The cost can comprise any of the factors of production and taxation.
Economies of scope are "efficiencies formed by variety, not volume". For example, many corporate diversification plans assume that economies of scope will be achieved.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to industrial organization:
Economies of agglomeration are cost savings arising from urban agglomeration, a major topic of urban economics. One aspect of agglomeration is that firms are often located near to each other. This concept relates to the idea of economies of scale and network effects.
In economics, a production function gives the technological relation between quantities of physical inputs and quantities of output of goods. The production function is one of the key concepts of mainstream neoclassical theories, used to define marginal product and to distinguish allocative efficiency, a key focus of economics. One important purpose of the production function is to address allocative efficiency in the use of factor inputs in production and the resulting distribution of income to those factors, while abstracting away from the technological problems of achieving technical efficiency, as an engineer or professional manager might understand it.
The big push model is a concept in development economics or welfare economics that emphasizes that a firm's decision whether to industrialize or not depends on its expectation of what other firms will do. It assumes economies of scale and oligopolistic market structure and explains when industrialization would happen.
In economics, diminishing returns is the decrease in the marginal (incremental) output of a production process as the amount of a single factor of production is incrementally increased, while the amounts of all other factors of production stay constant.
An isoquant is a contour line drawn through the set of points at which the same quantity of output is produced while changing the quantities of two or more inputs. While an indifference curve mapping helps to solve the utility-maximizing problem of consumers, the isoquant mapping deals with the cost-minimization problem of producers. Isoquants are typically drawn along with isocost curves in capital-labor graphs, showing the technological tradeoff between capital and labor in the production function, and the decreasing marginal returns of both inputs. Adding one input while holding the other constant eventually leads to decreasing marginal output, and this is reflected in the shape of the isoquant. A family of isoquants can be represented by an isoquant map, a graph combining a number of isoquants, each representing a different quantity of output. Isoquants are also called equal product curves.
In economics, returns to scale and economies of scale are related but different concepts that describe what happens as the scale of production increases in the long run, when all input levels including physical capital usage are variable. The concept of returns to scale arises in the context of a firm's production function. It explains the behavior of the rate of increase in output (production) relative to the associated increase in the inputs in the long run. In the long run all factors of production are variable and subject to change due to a given increase in size (scale). While economies of scale show the effect of an increased output level on unit costs, returns to scale focus only on the relation between input and output quantities.
In economics, a cost curve is a graph of the costs of production as a function of total quantity produced. In a free market economy, productively efficient firms optimize their production process by minimizing cost consistent with each possible level of production, and the result is a cost curve; and profit maximizing firms use cost curves to decide output quantities. There are various types of cost curves, all related to each other, including total and average cost curves; marginal cost curves, which are equal to the differential of the total cost curves; and variable cost curves. Some are applicable to the short run, others to the long run.
New trade theory (NTT) is a collection of economic models in international trade which focuses on the role of increasing returns to scale and network effects, which were developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
In microeconomics, the long run is the conceptual time period in which there are no fixed factors of production, so that there are no constraints preventing changing the output level by changing the capital stock or by entering or leaving an industry. The long run contrasts with the short run, in which some factors are variable and others are fixed, constraining entry or exit from an industry. In macroeconomics, the long run is the period when the general price level, contractual wage rates, and expectations adjust fully to the state of the economy, in contrast to the short run when these variables may not fully adjust.
Production is a process of combining various material inputs and immaterial inputs in order to make something for consumption. It is the act of creating an output, a good or service which has value and contributes to the utility of individuals.
In economics, the marginal product of labor (MPL) is the change in output that results from employing an added unit of labor.
The socially optimal firm size is the size for a company in a given industry at a given time which results in the lowest production costs per unit of output.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Economies of scale|