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October 17, 2018 

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COGNITIVE DISSONANCE: Also called buyer's remorse. This post-purchase behavior is more likely to happen when the purchase is a more expensive one. The consumer may experience some regrets or questioning as to whether the purchase was a good one. This is the fifth step in the decision making process. Marketers can help eliminate this by properly selling the product and doing a follow-up to help reinforce the buyer's "good" decision.

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FIRM OBJECTIVES:

The standard economic assumption underlying the analysis of firms is profit maximization. Real world firms, however, might not, and many times do not, make decisions based on the profit-maximization objective, or at least exclusively on the profit-maximization objective. Other objectives include: (1) sales maximization, (2) pursuit of personal welfare, and (3) pursuit of social welfare.
Although firms are assumed to make decisions that increase profit in standard economic analysis, real world firms often pursue other objectives on a day-to-day basis. Some firms set their sights on maximizing sales. For other firms the owners or employees are inclined to enhance personal living standards. And more than a few firms take steps that promote the overall welfare of society. In some cases, these other objectives help a firm pursue profit maximization. In other cases, they prevent a firm from maximizing profit.

Profit Maximization

Profit maximization is the process of obtaining the highest possible level of profit through the production and sale of goods and services. This is the guiding principle underlying the analysis of short-run production by a firm. In particular, economic analysis is assumed that firms undertake actions and make the decisions that increase profit.

Profit is the difference between the total revenue a firm receives from selling output and the total cost of producing that output. Profit-maximization means that a firm seeks the production level that generates the greatest difference between total revenue and total cost.

Consider how profit maximization might work for The Wacky Willy Company. Suppose that The Wacky Willy Company generates $100,000 of profit by producing 100,000 Stuffed Amigos, the difference between $1,000,000 of revenue and $900,000 of cost.

  • If profit falls from this $100,000 level when The Wacky Willy Company produces more (100,001) or fewer (99,999) Stuffed Amigos, then it is maximizing profit at 100,000.
Alternatively, if profit can be increased by producing more or less, then The Wacky Willy Company is NOT maximizing profit at the current level of production.
  • Suppose, for example, that producing 100,001 Stuffed Amigos adds an extra $11 to revenue but only $9 to cost. In this case, profit can be increased by $2, reaching $100,002, by producing one more Stuffed Amigo. As such 100,000 is NOT the profit maximizing level of production.

  • In contrast, suppose that producing 99,999 Stuffed Amigos reduces cost by $11 but only reduces revenue by only $9. In this case, profit can also be increased by $2, reaching $100,002, by producing one fewer Stuffed Amigo. As such 100,000 is NOT the profit maximizing level of production.

Sales Maximization

A reasonable, and often pursued objective of firms is to maximize sales, that is, to sell as much output as possible. Clearly sales lead to revenue, meaning that maximizing sales is also bound to maximize revenue. But as the analysis of short-run production indicates, maximizing sales does NOT necessarily maximize profit. So why do firms do it? Are firms unreasonable? Are they irrational? Do they NOT understand the basic economic principles of short-run production?

For some firms, the answers to these questions could be yes. But for other firms, sales maximization is actually a reasonable, even better, alternative to profit maximization.

Consider, the day-to-day production of Wacky Willy Stuffed Amigos. Suppose the President of The Wacky Willy Company, William J. Wackowski, issues a corporate directive to sell as many Stuffed Amigos as possible, to maximize sales. Is Willy Wackowski wacky? It might be that Mr. Wackowski has no knowledge of basic economic principles.

Alternatively Wacky William might have more business sense than it appears. In particular, if the price received from selling Stuffed Amigos is greater than the cost of producing each one, and looks to remain that way regardless of the quantity produced, then a reasonable goal is to maximize sales. If sales are greater, then so too is profit. Wacky Willy does NOT maximize profit under these circumstances. That is, it does not produce the quantity that achieves the highest possible profit. However, with each Stuffed Amigo produced, profit increases. In fact, Wacky Willy might not KNOW the profit-maximizing production level. All it knows is that selling more Stuffed Amigos, increases profit.

While sales maximization can serve as a means of pursing profit maximization, it can also prevent a firm from maximizing profit. The reason, of course, is that if sales become so large that the cost of production increases such that marginal cost exceeds marginal revenue, the maximizing sales does not maximize profit.

Pursuit of Personal Welfare

The people who make decisions for a business are, in fact, people. They have likes and dislikes. They have personal goals and aspirations just like people who do not make decisions for firms. On occasion these people use the firm to pursue their own personal welfare. When they do, their actions could enhance the firm's profit maximization or, in many cases, prevent profit maximization.

How about a few examples? Once again, consider William J. Wackowski, the president of The Wacky Willy Company. Perhaps Willy enjoys the finer things in life--a large house, fancy cars, and expensive vacations--which require a hefty income. As the primary stockholder of The Wacky Willy Company, when the business maximizes profit, then William J. Wackowski benefits with more income. In this case, the pursuit of personal welfare coincides with profit maximization.

Alternatively, suppose that the Mr. Wackowski hates the color purple. He simply refuse to produce ANY purple Stuffed Amigos. However, market studies clearly indicate that buyers want purple Stuffed Amigos. Moreover, the purple fabric that would be used to produce purple Stuffed Amigos is significantly less expensive than other colors. Mr. Willy clearly is wacky in this case. His purple-phobia prevents profit maximization.

William the Wackster might also decide to enhance his corporate lifestyle at the expense of corporate profit. He could, for example, give himself a bigger, more luxurious (but unneeded) office, a higher (but unneeded) salary, a company jet (also unneeded), season tickets to Shady Valley Primadonnas baseball team (clearly unneeded) and other (unneeded) amenities that are NOT needed to profitably produce Stuffed Amigos. These improve William's personal welfare, but at the expense of corporate profit.

Pursuit of Social Welfare

The people who make decisions for firms also have social consciences. Part of their likes and dislikes might be related to the overall state of society. As such, they might use the firm to pursue social welfare, which could enhance or prevent the firm's profit maximization.

How might William J. Wackowski's pursuit of social welfare enhance or prevent profit maximization of The Wacky Willy Company? Suppose that William wants a cleaner environment. As such, he might implement more costly environmentally "friendly" production techniques and materials. He does his part to "clean the environment," but at the expense of company profit.

Then again, Mr. Wackowski might feel that government environmental quality regulations restrict capital investment and economic growth. As such, William might have The Wacky Willy Company use part of its advertising budget to promote this view point. He might even use company revenue to set up the Wackowski Foundation for Policy Studies that is both a scientific think tank and a special interest lobbying organization with the goal of reducing environmental quality regulations.

While the pursuit of social welfare is likely to reduce company profit, it could have the opposite effect as well. Such activities could give The Wacky Willy Company a likeable public image that motivates people to buy more Stuffed Amigos than they would otherwise. In fact, some firms use the pursuit of social welfare as one aspect of their overall advertising efforts. They enhance their public image at the same time they do something "good" for society.

Natural Selection

Whichever objective a firm pursues on a day-to-day basis, the notion of natural selection suggests that successful firms intentionally or unintentionally maximize profit. That is, the firms best suited to the economic environment, and thus generate the most profit, are the ones that tend to survive.

The natural selection of business firms is an adaptation of the biological process of natural selection, in which biological entities best suited to the natural environment are the ones that survive. The concept of economic natural selection means that those firms that generate the greatest profit are the ones that avoid bankruptcy and survive to produce another day.

While firms might pursue sales maximization, personal welfare, or social welfare, only those firms that also maximize profit remain in business.

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Recommended Citation:

FIRM OBJECTIVES, AmosWEB Encyclonomic WEB*pedia, http://www.AmosWEB.com, AmosWEB LLC, 2000-2018. [Accessed: October 17, 2018].


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