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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

marginal cost formula
Nandu Reply
you should differentiate the total cost function in order to get marginal cost function then you can get marginal cost from it
boniphace
What about total cost
Foday
ok
Foday
formula of cross elasticity of demand
Theresia Reply
what is ceteris paribus
Priyanka Reply
what is ceteris parabus
Priyanka
Ceteris paribus - Literally, "other things being equal"; usually used in economics to indicate that all variables except the ones specified are assumed not to change.
Abdullah
What is broker
scor
land is natural resources that is made by nature
scor
What is broker
scor
what is land
kafui
What is broker
scor
land is natural resources that is made by nature
scor
whats poppina nigga turn it up for a minute get it
amarsyaheed Reply
what is this?
Philo
am from nigeria@ pilo
Frank
am from nigeria@ pilo
Frank
so
owusu
what is production possibility frontier
owusu
it's a summary of opportunity cost depicted on a curve.
okhiria
please help me solve this question with the aid of appropriate diagrams explain how each of the following changes will affect the market price and quantity of bread 1. A
Manuela Reply
please l need past question about economics
Prosper Reply
ok let me know some of the questions please.
Effah
ok am not wit some if den nw buh by tommorow I shall get Dem
adepojurafiu
Hi guys can I get Adam Smith's WEALTH OF NATIONS fo sale?
Ukpen
hello I'm Babaisa alhaji Mustapha. I'm studying Economics in the university of Maiduguri
Babaisa
okay
Humaira
my name is faisal Yahaya. i studied economics at Kaduna state university before proceeding to West African union university benin republic for masters
Faisal
Hi guys..I am from Bangladesh..
Mannan
Wat d meaning of management
igwe Reply
disaster management cycle
Gogul Reply
cooperate social responsibility
igwe
Fedric Wilson Taylor also define management as the act of knowing what to do and seeing that it is done in the best and cheapest way
OLANIYI
difference between microeconomics and macroeconomic
Ugyen Reply
microeconomics is the study of individual units, firm and government while macroeconomics is the study of the economic aggregates.
okhiria
The classical theory of full employment
Lovely
what is monopoli power
Adzaho Reply
the situation that prevails when economic forces balance so that economic variables neither increase nor decrease
Bombey
what is equilibrium
Kabir
what are the important of economic to accounting students with references
salihu Reply
Economics is important because it helps people understand how a variety of factors work with and against each other to control how resources such as labor and capital get used, and how inflation, supply, demand, interest rates and other factors determine how much you pay for goods and services.
Muhammad
explain the steps taken by the government in developing rural market?
Azeem Reply
government provide good road for than
Abigailb
government should provide good agricultural project and it should also provide good road so that the the product that will come out of the farm will be easy transport to the market
ALIMAMY
farming equipments should be provided to farmers to help them improve in farming
Agbor
improving the transport systems providing enterpreneur edecation to the mass living in rural zones enforcment of loans and capital for the people rising awareness on the advantages of rural areas
abdul
contribution of Adam smith in economics
abel Reply
I will join
Dexter
I will join
Patrick
Hey
Fatima
Hey
Amir
Hello
AS
hey
Umarou
I love this book and i need extra Economic book
Amir
Hey
Amir
what's happening here
AS
I love this book and i need extra Economic book
Amir
what is the meaning of function in economics
Effah Reply
Pls, I need more explanation on price Elasticity of Supply
Isaac Reply
Is the degree to the degree of responsiveness of a change in quantity supplied of goods to a change in price
Afran
what is production
Humaira
Okay what is land mobile and land unmobile
scor
And what are the resources in land
scor
the proces of using the services of labor and equipmnt together with other in puts to make goods and services availble
Bombey
Okay what is land mobile and land unmobile
scor

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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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