2Objectives After studying this chapter, you will able to Explain what a firm is and describe the economic problems that all firms faceDistinguish between technological efficiency and economic efficiencyDefine and explain the principal-agent problem and describe how different types of business organizations cope with this problem
3Objectives After studying this chapter, you will able to Describe and distinguish between different types of markets in which firms operateExplain why markets coordinate some economic activities and firms coordinate others
4Spinning a WebTim Berners-Lee’s idea, the World Wide Web, has provided a platform for the creation of thousands of profitable businesses from tiny owner-operated firms to giant multinationals.This chapter explains the role of firms and the problems that all firms face.
5The Firm and Its Economic Problem A firm is an institution that hires factors of production and organizes them to produce and sell goods and services.The Firm’s GoalA firm’s goal is to maximize profit.If the firm fails to maximize profits it is either eliminated or bought out by other firms seeking to maximize profit.
6The Firm and Its Economic Problem Measuring a Firm’s ProfitAccountants measure a firm’s profit using rules laid down by the Internal Revenue Service and the Financial Accounting Standards Board.Their goal is to report profit so that the firm pays the correct amount of tax and is open and honest about its financial situation with its bank and other lenders.Economists measure profit based on an opportunity cost measure of cost.
7The Firm and Its Economic Problem Opportunity CostA firm’s decisions respond to opportunity cost and economic profit.A firm’s opportunity cost of producing a good is the best, forgone alternative use of its factors of production, usually measured in dollars.Opportunity cost includes both:Explicit costsImplicit costs
8The Firm and Its Economic Problem Explicit costs are costs paid directly in money.Implicit costs are costs incurred when a firm uses its own capital or its owners’ time for which it does not make a direct money payment.The firm can rent capital and pay an explicit rental cost reflecting the opportunity cost of using the capital.The firm can also buy capital and incur an implicit opportunity cost of using its own capital, called the implicit rental rate of capital.
9The Firm and Its Economic Problem The implicit rental rate of capital is made up of:Economic depreciationInterest forgoneEconomic depreciation is the change in the market value of capital over a given period.Interest forgone is the return on the funds used to acquire the capital.
10The Firm and Its Economic Problem The cost of the owner’s resources is his or her entrepreneurial ability and labor expended in running the business.The opportunity cost of the owner’s entrepreneurial ability is the average return from this contribution that can be expected from running another firm. This return is called a normal profit.The opportunity cost of the owner’s labor spent running the business is the wage income forgone by not working in the next best alternative job.
11The Firm and Its Economic Problem Economic ProfitEconomic profit equals a firm’s total revenue minus its opportunity cost of production.A firm’s opportunity cost of production is the sum of the explicit costs and implicit costs.Normal profit is part of the firm’s opportunity costs, so economic profit is profit over and above normal profit.Table 9.1summarizes the economic accounting concepts.
12The Firm and Its Economic Problem Economic Accounting: A SummaryTo maximize profit, a firm must make five basic decisions:What goods and services to produce and in what quantitiesHow to produce—the production technology to useHow to organize and compensate its managers and workersHow to market and price its productsWhat to produce itself and what to buy from other firms
13The Firm and Its Economic Problem The Firm’s ConstraintsThe five basic decisions of a firm are limited by the constraints it faces. There are three constraints a firm faces:TechnologyInformationMarket
14The Firm and Its Economic Problem Technology ConstraintsTechnology is any method of producing a good or service.Technology advances over time.Using the available technology, the firm can produce more only if it hires more resources, which will increase its costs and limit the profit of additional output.
15The Firm and Its Economic Problem Information ConstraintsA firm never possesses complete information about either the present or the future.It is constrained by limited information about the quality and effort of its work force, current and future buying plans of its customers, and the plans of its competitors.The cost of coping with limited information limits profit.
16The Firm and Its Economic Problem Market ConstraintsWhat a firm can sell and the price it can obtain are constrained by its customers’ willingness to pay and by the prices and marketing efforts of other firms.The resources that a firm can buy and the prices it must pay for them are limited by the willingness of people to work for and invest in the firm.The expenditures a firm incurs to overcome these market constraints will limit the profit the firm can make.
17Technology and Economic Efficiency Technological EfficiencyTechnological efficiency occurs when a firm produces a given level of output by using the least amount inputs.Table 9.2 shows four ways of making a TV set, one of which is technologically inefficient.There may be different combinations of inputs to use for producing a given level of output.If it is impossible to maintain output by decreasing any one input, holding all other inputs constant, then production is technologically efficient.
18Technology and Economic Efficiency Economic efficiency occurs when the firm produces a given level of output at the least cost.Table 9.3 shows how the economically efficient method depends on the relative costs of capital and labor.The difference between technological and economic efficiency is that technological efficiency concerns the quantity of inputs used in production for a given level of output, whereas economic efficiency concerns the cost of the inputs used.
19Technology and Economic Efficiency An economically efficient production process also is technologically efficient.\A technologically efficient process may not be economically efficient.Changes in the input prices influence the value of the inputs, but not the technological process for using them in production.
20Information and Organization A firm organizes production by combining and coordinating productive resources using a mixture of two systems:Command systemsIncentive systems
21Information and Organization Command SystemsA command system uses a managerial hierarchy.Commands pass downward through the hierarchy and information (feedback) passes upward.These systems are relatively rigid and can have many layers of specialized management.
22Information and Organization Incentive SystemsAn incentive system, uses market-like mechanisms to induce workers to perform in ways that maximize the firm’s profit.
23Information and Organization Mixing the SystemsMost firms use a mix of command and incentive systems to maximize profit.They use commands when it is easy to monitor performance or when a small deviation from the ideal performance is very costly.They use incentives whenever monitoring performance is impossible or too costly to be worth doing.
24Information and Organization The Principal-Agent ProblemThe principal-agent problem is the problem of devising compensation rules that induce an agent to act in the best interests of a principal.For example, the stockholders of a firm are the principals and the managers of the firm are their agents.
25Information and Organization Coping with the Principal-Agent ProblemThree ways of coping with the principal-agent problem are:OwnershipIncentive payLong-term contracts
26Information and Organization Ownership, often offered to managers, gives the managers an incentive to maximize the firm’s profits, which is the goal of the owners, the principals.Incentive pay links managers’ or workers’ pay to the firm’s performance and helps align the managers’ and workers’ interests with those of the owners, the principal.Long-term contracts can tie managers’ or workers’ long-term rewards to the long-term performance of the firm. This arrangement encourages the agents work in the best long-term interests of the firm owners, the principals.
27Information and Organization Types of Business OrganizationThere are three types of business organization:ProprietorshipPartnershipCorporation
28Information and Organization ProprietorshipA proprietorship is a firm with a single owner who has unlimited liability, or legal responsibility for all debts incurred by the firm—up to an amount equal to the entire wealth of the owner.The proprietor also makes management decisions and receives the firm’s profit.Profits are taxed the same as the owner’s other income.
29Information and Organization PartnershipA partnership is a firm with two or more owners who have unlimited liability.Partners must agree on a management structure and how to divide up the profits.Profits from partnerships are taxed as the personal income of the owners.
30Information and Organization CorporationA corporation is owned by one or more stockholders with limited liability, which means the owners who have legal liability only for the initial value of their investment.The personal wealth of the stockholders is not at risk if the firm goes bankrupt.The profit of corporations is taxed twice—once as a corporate tax on firm profits, and then again as income taxes paid by stockholders receiving their after-tax profits distributed as dividends.
31Information and Organization Pros and Cons of Different Types of FirmsEach type of business organization has advantages and disadvantages.Table 9.4 lists the pros and cons of different types of ownership.
32Information and Organization Proprietorships are easy to set upManagerial decision making is simpleProfits are taxed only onceBut bad decisions made by the manager are not subject to reviewThe owner’s entire wealth is at stakeThe firm dies with the ownerThe cost of capital and labor can be high
33Information and Organization Partnerships are easy to set upEmploy diversified decision-making processesCan survive the death or withdrawal of a partnerProfits are taxed only onceBut partnerships make attaining a consensus about managerial decisions difficultPlace the owners’ entire wealth at riskThe cost of capital can be high, and the withdrawal of a partner might create a capital shortage
34Information and Organization A corporation offers perpetual lifeLimited liability for its ownersLarge-scale and low-cost capital that is readily availableProfessional managementLower costs from long-term labor contractsBut a corporation’s management structure may lead to slower and expensive decision-makingProfit is taxed twice—as corporate profit and shareholder income.
35Information and Organization The Relative Importance of Different Types and FirmsThere are a greater number of proprietorships than other form of business, but corporations account for the majority of revenue received by businesses.
36Information and Organization Figure 9.1(a) shows the frequency of each type of business organization.Figure 9.1(b) shows the dominant type of business organization for various industries.
37Markets and the Competitive Environment Economists identify four market types:Perfect competitionMonopolistic competitionOligopolyMonopoly
38Markets and the Competitive Environment Perfect competition is a market structure with:Many firmsEach sells an identical productMany buyersNo restrictions on entry of new firms to the industryBoth firms and buyers are all well informed of the prices and products of all firms in the industry.
39Markets and the Competitive Environment Monopolistic competition is a market structure with:Many firmsEach firm produces similar but slightly different products—called product differentiationEach firm possesses an element of market powerNo restrictions on entry of new firms to the industry
40Markets and the Competitive Environment Oligopoly is a market structure in which:A small number of firms competeThe firms might produce almost identical products or differentiated productsBarriers to entry limit entry into the market.
41Markets and the Competitive Environment Monopoly is a market structure in whichOne firm produces the entire output of the industryThere are no close substitutes for the productThere are barriers to entry that protect the firm from competition by entering firms
42Markets and the Competitive Environment Measures of ConcentrationTwo measures of market concentration in common use are:The four-firm concentration ratioThe Herfindahl–Hirschman index (HHI)
43Markets and the Competitive Environment The four-firm concentration ratio is the percentage of the total industry sales accounted for by the four largest firms in the industry.The Herfindahl–Hirschman index (HHI) is the sum of the squared market shares of the 50 largest firms in the industry.The larger the measure of market concentration, the less competition that exists in the industry.Table 9.5 on page 202 shows an example calculation for each ratio.
44Markets and the Competitive Environment Concentration Measures for the U.S. EconomyThe U.S. Justice Department uses the HHI to classify markets.A market with an HHI of less than 1,000 is regarded as highly competitiveA market with an HHI between 1,000 and 1,800 is regarded as moderately competitiveA market with an HHI greater than 1,800 is uncompetitive
45Markets and the Competitive Environment Figure 9.2 shows the four-firm concentration ratio for various industries in the United States.The figure also shows the HHI for these industries.
46Markets and the Competitive Environment Limitations of Concentration MeasuresConcentration measures alone are not sufficient to identify the market structure of a given industry.Concentration ratios are based on the national market.For some goods, the relevant market is local (e.g., newspapers)For some goods, the relevant market is the world (e.g., automobiles).
47Markets and the Competitive Environment Concentration ratios convey no information about the extent of barriers to entry.For some industries, few firms may be currently operating in the market but competition might be fierce, with firms regularly entering and exiting the industry.Even potential entry might be enough to maintain competition.
48Markets and the Competitive Environment Table 9.6 on page 203 summarizes the range of other information used with the concentration ratio to determine market structure.
49Markets and the Competitive Environment Market Structures in the U.S. EconomyFigure 9.3 shows the distribution of market structures in the U.S. economy.The economy is mainly competitive.
50Markets and Firms Market Coordination Markets both coordinate production.Chapter 3 explains how demand and supply coordinate the plans of buyers and sellers.Outsourcing—buying parts or products from other firms—is an example of market coordination of production.But firms coordinate more production than do markets.Why?
51Markets and Firms Why Firms? Firms coordinate production when they can do so more efficiently than a market.Four key reasons might make firms more efficient. Firms can achieve:Lower transactions costsEconomies of scaleEconomies of scopeEconomies of team production
52Markets and FirmsTransactions costs are the costs arising from finding someone with whom to do business, reaching agreement on the price and other aspects of the exchange, and ensuring that the terms of the agreement are fulfilled.Economies of scale occur when the cost of producing a unit of a good falls as its output rate increases.Economies of scope arise when a firm can use specialized inputs to produce a range of different goods at a lower cost than otherwise.Firms can engage in team production, in which the individuals specialize in mutually supporting tasks.