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OLIGOPOLISTIC BEHAVIOR: Oligopolistic industries are nothing if not diverse. Some sell identical products, others differentiated products. Some have three or four firms of nearly equal size, others have one large dominate firm (a clear industry leader) and a handful of smaller firms (that follow the leader). Whatever products they may sell, and however they may be organized, oligopolistic industries share several behavioral tendencies, including (1) interdependence, (2) rigid prices, (3) nonprice competition, (4) mergers, and (5) collusion. In other words, each oligopolistic firm keeps a close eye on the decisions made by other firms in the industry (interdependence), are reluctant to change prices (rigid prices), but instead try to attract the competitors customers using incentives other than prices (nonprice competition), and when they get tired of competing with their competitors they are inclined to cooperate either legally (mergers) or illegally (collusion).

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SPECIALIZATION: The condition in which resources are primarily devoted to specific tasks. This is one of THE most important and most fundamental notions in the study of economics. Civilized human beings have long recognized that limited resources can be more effectively used in the production the goods and services that satisfy unlimited wants and needs if those resources specialize. For example, three ice cream parlor workers, can be, in total, more productive if one runs the cash register, another scoops the ice cream, and a third adds the hot fudge topping. By devoting their energies to learning how to do their respective tasks really, really well, these three workers can produce more hot fudge sundaes than if each performed all required tasks.

     See also | resources | economics | limited resources | production | goods | services | unlimited wants and needs | comparative advantage | division of labor |


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ACCOUNTING COST

An actual outlay or expenses incurred in the production of a good that shows up in a firm's accounting statements and records. Accounting cost is an explicit payment (that is, money changing hands) incurred by a firm. Accounting cost, while very important to accountants, company CEOs, shareholders, and the Internal Revenue Service, is only minimally important to economists. The reason is that economists are more interested in economic cost (also called opportunity cost), which is the value of foregone production.

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Today, you are likely to spend a great deal of time watching infomercials looking to buy either a package of 3 by 5 index cards, the ones without lines or a blue mechanical pencil. Be on the lookout for the happiest person in the room.
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Potato chips were invented in 1853 by a irritated chef repeatedly seeking to appease the hard to please Cornelius Vanderbilt who demanded french fried potatoes that were thinner and crisper than normal.
"The way employees treat customers reflects the manner in which they're treated by management. "

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