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K: The standard abbreviation for the quantity of capital goods, especially for the analysis of production. The letter "K" is used even though capital begins with a "C" because "C" is commonly used to represent consumption. The complementary representations for other inputs are "L" for labor and "N" for population.

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PRODUCTION INPUTS:

The resources, or factors of production, used in the production of output by a firm. This term is most frequently associated with the analysis of short-run production, and is often modified by the terms fixed and variable, as in fixed input and variable input. The quantity of a variable input can be changed in the short run and the quantity of a fixed input cannot be changed.
The relation between a variable input and output is of particular interest in the study of short-run production. This relation is noted as the law of diminishing marginal returns, which indicates that additional quantities of a variable input, when added to a fixed input, has a decreasing marginal product, or marginal returns.

In the short run, the quantity of a fixed input cannot be changed, meaning it cannot be used to expand output. The best example of a fixed input for most short-run production is capital, especially the building, factory, and equipment used. In contrast, a variable input can be changed, making it THE means of expanding output in the short run.

  • Consider, for example, Waldo's TexMex Taco World restaurant. The output for Waldo's production operation is Super Deluxe TexMex Gargantuan Tacos (with sour cream and jalapeno peppers). Some key inputs are the ingredients (sour cream, jalapeno peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, taco shells), the workers (lettuce shredders, tomato slicers, taco shell makers), and the capital (restaurant, deep-fat frier, knives).

  • Another example is provided by the Shady Valley Amusement Park which produces the excitement of riding the Monster Loop Death Plunge Roller Coaster. A few inputs in this activity are the Monster Loop Death Plunge Roller Coaster itself, the ride operator, grease for the rails, electricity, and the janitorial staff who clean up after nauseated patrons.

Variable Input

A variable input is an input whose quantity CAN be changed in the short run. The most common example of a variable input is labor. A variable input provides the extra inputs that a firm needs to expand short-run production. As larger quantities of a variable input, like labor, are added to a fixed input like capital, the variable input becomes less productive.

Consider, for example, the short-run production of Shady Valley's favorite lunch time meal, Super Deluxe TexMex Gargantuan Tacos (with sour cream and jalapeno peppers). The key variable input for Waldo Millbottom, the owner and proprietor of Waldo's TexMex Taco World, is the staff of workers.

To alter the production of TexMex Gargantuan Tacos, Waldo changes the size of his workforce. Waldo does not concern himself with the size of the restaurant, number of tables and chairs, amount of kitchen equipment, and available parking spaces.

Fixed Input

A fixed input is an input whose quantity CANNOT be changed in the short run. The most common example of a fixed input is capital. A fixed input, like a factory, building, or piece of equipment, provides the "capacity" constraint for the short-run production of a firm.

The short-run production of Super Deluxe TexMex Gargantuan Tacos (with sour cream and jalapeno peppers) also illustrates fixed inputs. The key fixed input used by Waldo's TexMex Taco World is the restaurant and accompanying capital equipment.

In the day-to-day production of TexMex Gargantuan Tacos, Waldo does not concern himself with the size of the restaurant, number of tables and chairs, amount of kitchen equipment, and available parking spaces. The quantities of these items are fixed in the short run.

The Short and Long

The specification of inputs as either fixed or variable is intertwined with the distinction between short run and long run.
  • Short Run: The short run is a period of time in which at least one input used for production and under the control of the producer is variable and at least one input is fixed.

  • Long Run: The long run is a period of time in which at all inputs used for production and under the control of the producer are variable.
The difference between short run and long run depends on the particular production activity. For some producers, the short run lasts a few days. For others, the short run can last for decades. Moreover, whether an input is fixed or variable depends on whether the period of analysis is the short run or the long run. The four concepts are closely connected.

Under Control

The preceding discussion of short run and long run includes the phrase "under control of the producer." The microeconomic analysis of production, both short run and long run, is primarily interested in how a firm selects a production level in response to the market price, which it does by changing the quantity of inputs used. However, the firm can only change those inputs under its control.

Many firms use inputs over which they have no control. Examples include government laws and regulations, social customs and institutions, weather, and the forces of nature. A farmer, for example, can control the amounts of labor, seeds, fertilizer, and capital equipment used for production, but not the amount of sunshine or rainfall. Waldo's TexMex Taco World can control the number of workers employed and the quantity of jalapeno peppers used, but not government health and safety regulations.

<= PRODUCTION FUNCTIONPRODUCTION POSSIBILITIES =>


Recommended Citation:

PRODUCTION INPUTS, AmosWEB Encyclonomic WEB*pedia, http://www.AmosWEB.com, AmosWEB LLC, 2000-2018. [Accessed: June 23, 2018].


Check Out These Related Terms...

     | variable input | fixed input | production time periods | short run | long run | market period | very long run | product | production function | total product | marginal product | average product | law of diminishing marginal returns | marginal returns |


Or For A Little Background...

     | short-run production analysis | production | production cost | variables | labor | capital | firm | business | economic analysis | marginal analysis | factors of production | microeconomics |


And For Further Study...

     | long-run production analysis | division of labor | production possibilities | ownership and control | production stages | total product and marginal product | average product and marginal product | total product and average product | marginal cost |


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