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The flat section of the long-run average cost curve in [link] (b) can be interpreted in two different ways. One interpretation is that a single manufacturing plant producing a quantity of 5,000 has the same average costs as a single manufacturing plant with four times as much capacity that produces a quantity of 20,000. The other interpretation is that one firm owns a single manufacturing plant that produces a quantity of 5,000, while another firm owns four separate manufacturing plants, which each produce a quantity of 5,000. This second explanation, based on the insight that a single firm may own a number of different manufacturing plants, is especially useful in explaining why the long-run average cost curve often has a large flat segment—and thus why a seemingly smaller firm may be able to compete quite well with a larger firm. At some point, however, the task of coordinating and managing many different plants raises the cost of production sharply, and the long-run average cost curve slopes up as a result.

In the examples to this point, the quantity demanded in the market is quite large (one million) compared with the quantity produced at the bottom of the long-run average cost curve (5,000, 10,000 or 20,000). In such a situation, the market is set for competition between many firms. But what if the bottom of the long-run average cost curve is at a quantity of 10,000 and the total market demand at that price is only slightly higher than that quantity—or even somewhat lower?

Return to [link] (a), where the bottom of the long-run average cost curve is at 10,000, but now imagine that the total quantity of dishwashers demanded in the market at that price of $500 is only 30,000. In this situation, the total number of firms in the market would be three. A handful of firms in a market is called an “oligopoly,” and the chapter on Monopolistic Competition and Oligopoly will discuss the range of competitive strategies that can occur when oligopolies compete.

Alternatively, consider a situation, again in the setting of [link] (a), where the bottom of the long-run average cost curve is 10,000, but total demand for the product is only 5,000. (For simplicity, imagine that this demand is highly inelastic, so that it does not vary according to price.) In this situation, the market may well end up with a single firm—a monopoly—producing all 5,000 units. If any firm tried to challenge this monopoly while producing a quantity lower than 5,000 units, the prospective competitor firm would have a higher average cost, and so it would not be able to compete in the longer term without losing money. The chapter on Monopoly discusses the situation of a monopoly firm.

Thus, the shape of the long-run average cost curve reveals whether competitors in the market will be different sizes. If the LRAC curve has a single point at the bottom, then the firms in the market will be about the same size, but if the LRAC curve has a flat-bottomed segment of constant returns to scale, then firms in the market may be a variety of different sizes.

Questions & Answers

different between capital and wealth
Samuel Reply
What is scale of reference?
Finda Reply
What is monopoly?
It is the control of market by single seller or producer
the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or services
what is scarcity
Bonny Reply
what is demand
Sophia Reply
demand means that's good demand according to your needs is called demand
needs of people ar called demand
what's the difference between opportunity cost and production possibility curve?
apportunity cost means a goods which can be replace by other goods without any ease of saticfaction
what is economocs
Bonny Reply
Economics is a science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.
It deals with making choices in the face of scarcity
what is perfect complements?
Bilal Reply
explain the return to scale with the help of mathematical expression
what is scarcity
difference between fixed policy and monetary policies
Doris Reply
explain why the ppc curve slopes downward?
Osei Reply
As you shift you attention to producing more of one good the graph will represent the trade-off of of the limitations of time or resources producing one verses the other good. The first 2 end points represent that you are using all your resources to only produce one good.
what is perfect complements?
determination of perfect competition
Mumbere Reply
How can economics be important to us
Obed Reply
how can economics be important to us
economics is important on expenditure analysis
because it is to make choice
Economics also provide the individuals the opportunity to make significant contributions to make social and economic development in their country
Economic is important because of the fact of scarcity and desire for efficiency...
it enable us to make rational choice
what is unemployment
unemployment occurs when a person is actively searching for employment is unable to find work .....
unemployment occurs when an individual is willing and capable to work but is unable to attain a job.
It is important because economics provide solutions about scarcity.
which of the following measures will the government take during inflation?
Price falls and demand is inelastic Please define it with an example and diagram.
Muhammad Reply
difference between nominal gdp and real gdp
Sakshi Reply
main is adjustment for inflation
what are the factors of production
Sheku Reply
capital, labor, technology
is economic a science
Emmanuel Reply
as economic a science
yes because it study human behavior
yes it deal with human activity and the welfare of people in the country
yes because it uses scientific methods of solving problems
yes because it uses scientific methods in solving problems
pls can I ask a question
Pls what are the characteristics of opportunity costs
identify the type of price elasticity of demand
economic is a science
what is monopoly
Is Economics a Science
Albert Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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