Critically Evaluate the Management Model of Baumol

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Under the traditional economic understanding, it is always assumed that profit maximization is treated as the main goal or objective for businesses, subject to perfect knowledge, single entity and rational logic. However, as illustrated by the principal-agency problem, managers do not usually make rational decision entirely like owners who take company interest as their sole basis for their decisions. Past examples have shown that managers do take their own personal goals and satisfactions as consideration in their decision-making. In addition, information gathering is not always perfect as managers do make decision by relying solely on the implicit knowledge gained from past experiences, without referencing to the macro-economic environment and the current market changes. Combining all these factors, it is therefore understandable that businesses do not always work toward profit maximization, at least in the short term, and other objectives like financial objective, market share, executive power, etc. do involve in business decision making.

However, as pointed out by various academics (Baumol, 1962; Marris, 1964; Williamson, 1963), profit maximization does not always serve as the only correct objective for a firm, especially at various phrases of the business on a timeline scale. A point-in-hand is Baumol model. As an alternative to profit maximization model, Baumol model works on the correlation between price and output decision with the objective of maximizing sales revenue, subjected to minimum profit constraint by shareholders. In profit maximization model, profit is maximized at the output where Marginal Revenue (MR) is equaled to Marginal Cost (MC) whereas Baumol Model emphasizes on maximizing sales revenue (TR) and may miss the MC = MR point to achieve its goal. This model argues that businesses try to maximize sales revenues rather than profits with the possible motives such as growing or sustaining market share, to fill up spare capacity, discourage new entrants, management performance and etc.

In addition, Baumol model provides a platform to understand some of the pricing strategies adopted by certain industries, which usually share common characteristics of having huge sunk cost and low variable cost. In such industries where fixed cost or sunk cost takes up a huge part of the total cost, producing a single unit and its maximum allowable output (without expanding its capacity in the short term) does not have any significant impact to the total cost. In such instances, profit maximization model is neither practical nor feasible as a focus of the model relies on seeking the output point where MC=MR. In the case of Walt Disney, the operational cost does not differ much whether there is one patronage or maximum allowable patronages as a theme park has to be fully functional during its operation hours, which render the MC at zero or near zero level. The objective of the company to seek sales revenue maximization for the day rather than focusing its effort to achieve the output point where MC=MR to maximize its profit does make sense. This explains the two-part pricing strategy adopted by Walt Disney where a fix initialization fee per entry is charged and allows the patronage to have as many free rides as they wish.

Another example is the telecommunication industry, where the initial investment/fixed cost (for example launching the satellite and setting up the infrastructure) is huge, and the variable cost per call is insignificant to the total cost. In such industry, firms will focus on maximizing sales revenue (with constraints to maximum capacity/output) by using strategies like price discrimination strategy. In this strategy, the firms charge a different unit price to peak and off-peak hours, as there is plenty of spare capacity at off-peak hours. Since MC of output is low, any additional revenue that can be generated from this surplus capacity will be profit to the firms. As such instance, it is...
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