A2 Markets & Market Systems Short Run and Long Run Production
As part of our introduction to the theory of the firm, we first consider the nature of production of different goods and services in the short and long run. The concept of a production functionThe production function is a mathematical expression which relates the quantity of factor inputs to the quantity of outputs that result. We make use of three measures of production / productivity. * Total product is simply the total output that is generated from the factors of production employed by a business. In most manufacturing industries such as motor vehicles, freezers and DVD players, it is straightforward to measure the volume of production from labour and capital inputs that are used. But in many service or knowledge-based industries, where much of the output is “intangible” or perhaps weightless we find it harder to measure productivity * Average product is the total output divided by the number of units of the variable factor of production employed (e.g. output per worker employed or output per unit of capital employed) * Marginal product is the change in total product when an additional unit of the variable factor of production is employed. For example marginal product would measure the change in output that comes from increasing the employment of labour by one person, or by adding one more machine to the production process in the short run.The Short Run Production FunctionThe short run is defined in economics as a period of time where at least one factor of production is assumed to be in fixed supply i.e. it cannot be changed. We normally assume that the quantity of capital inputs (e.g. plant and machinery) is fixed and that production can be altered by suppliers through changing the demand for variable inputs such as labour, components, raw materials and energy inputs. Often the amount of land available for production is also fixed.The time periods used in textbook economics are...
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