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By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Calculate total cost
  • Identify economies of scale, diseconomies of scale, and constant returns to scale
  • Interpret graphs of long-run average cost curves and short-run average cost curves
  • Analyze cost and production in the long run and short run

The long run is the period of time when all costs are variable. The long run depends on the specifics of the firm in question—it is not a precise period of time. If you have a one-year lease on your factory, then the long run is any period longer than a year, since after a year you are no longer bound by the lease. No costs are fixed in the long run. A firm can build new factories and purchase new machinery, or it can close existing facilities. In planning for the long run, the firm will compare alternative production technologies    (or processes).

In this context, technology refers to all alternative methods of combining inputs to produce outputs. It does not refer to a specific new invention like the tablet computer. The firm will search for the production technology that allows it to produce the desired level of output at the lowest cost. After all, lower costs lead to higher profits—at least if total revenues remain unchanged. Moreover, each firm must fear that if it does not seek out the lowest-cost methods of production, then it may lose sales to competitor firms that find a way to produce and sell for less.

Choice of production technology

Many tasks can be performed with a range of combinations of labor and physical capital. For example, a firm can have human beings answering phones and taking messages, or it can invest in an automated voicemail system. A firm can hire file clerks and secretaries to manage a system of paper folders and file cabinets, or it can invest in a computerized recordkeeping system that will require fewer employees. A firm can hire workers to push supplies around a factory on rolling carts, it can invest in motorized vehicles, or it can invest in robots that carry materials without a driver. Firms often face a choice between buying a many small machines, which need a worker to run each one, or buying one larger and more expensive machine, which requires only one or two workers to operate it. In short, physical capital and labor can often substitute for each other.

Consider the example of a private firm that is hired by local governments to clean up public parks. Three different combinations of labor and physical capital for cleaning up a single average-sized park appear in [link] . The first production technology is heavy on workers and light on machines, while the next two technologies substitute machines for workers. Since all three of these production methods produce the same thing—one cleaned-up park—a profit-seeking firm will choose the production technology that is least expensive, given the prices of labor and machines.

Three ways to clean a park
Production technology 1 10 workers 2 machines
Production technology 2 7 workers 4 machines
Production technology 3 3 workers 7 machines

Questions & Answers

what is demand and supply
Lansana Reply
what is liquidity
VICTOR Reply
the ability to easily turn asset or investment to cash
Johnson
liquidity is refers to the ease with which an asset or security, can be converted into ready cash without affecting it's market price. example is milk and checking a account in the bank.
Gyamfua
the meaning PPP is public _private partnership and PPP in economic is purchasing power_parity.
Gyamfua
what is economy production
Miracle Reply
what is Monopoly
Miracle
what is monopoly
Aina Reply
what is the full meaning of gpa?
Eedris Reply
why the firm will be happy to make normal profit?
Anold Reply
1.to make further increase 2.to established the firm 3. to draw and attract more customers 4. to foresee the future of the firm. 5. to get goods in galore
Castino
when marginal utility is zero? what is the total utility?
Scott Reply
definition of choice?
Anick Reply
it refers to the act of selecting one alternative from the other
Donfack
State and explain three advantages and two disadvantages of capitalist economic system
Ghislain Reply
What is cross elasticity of demand
Justice Reply
Is a demand in which the of goods change over time.
Shadrick
How can I join
Shadrick
join what?
Castino
it measure the extend in which the quantity demanded of a good respond to change in price of other good.
Donfack
refers to sensitivity of quantity demanded in change of price of commodity
Daniel
meaning of PPP
OBANYI
What is balance of payments
Bah Reply
what are free good
Maillot Reply
how do you determine price change
Matri Reply
what is economics?
Yaya Reply
what is economic
Nana Reply
Economics is the study of how Individual consumer, institution and society as a whole uses its available finite resources to satisfy infinite needs and wants
Richard
Explain the following concepts using suitable exemple. 1) National budget. 2) National debt
Rosalie

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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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