Terms Beginning With 'f'

Factors of Production

  • January 02, 2020
  • Team Kalkine

What are the Factors of Production?

Production of anything requires inputs to produce an output, and the inputs used in the production are known as factors of production. Alternatively, these are resources used in the production of goods and services. 

Factors of production are also critical to economic growth given the economic growth requires expansion in output/national income or total production. Factors are a class of productive elements, which individually are known as units. 

Units are interchangeable and homogenous, moreover, they are perfect substitutes for each other. Factors, which constitute a group of units, are not a perfect substitute for each other. Modern economists prefer using ‘inputs’ instead of conventional factors of production: land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship. 

Classification of Factors of production

Land

Land includes all the natural resources available such as water and air. It constitutes a natural resource that yields income and is exchangeable for a consideration. In the absence of land, water and sun, a farmer cannot produce crops. 

Every commodity traded in the world can be traced back to land directly or indirectly. Such as gold is extracted from mines, crude oil is explored and extracted from oil fields, grains are produced in agricultural land. Moreover, the land is arguably the ultimate origination of commodities. 

Meanwhile, the quantity and quality of land are vital to yield an acceptable utility for the user. But the availability of land does not guarantee economic growth because the ability to use resource determines the optimal use of the resource. 

Land can be further classified as renewable and non-renewable. Renewable resources can be used again and again in the production like an agricultural land used year after year for the cultivation of food, grains etc. 

Non-renewable land is not usable again and again and is exhausted as the consumption increases. A gold mine may not yield additional income for a business when ore reserves are exhausted. And a new discovery would provide additional resource.   

Land, as a blessing of nature, is fixed in supply. Whether the demand increases or decreases, the supply of land will remain the same. As a result, it is not dependent on the price, therefore supply of land is perfectly inelastic. 

Labour

Labour does include not only physical but also mental abilities that are done by humans for a monetary benefit. The contribution of labour depends on the size and quality of labour. 

For instance, Japan has been successful in the production of small and compact cars, while the US producers were efficient in slightly heavy cars. 

Higher productivity of labour will likely deliver favourable benefits. As a human factor, labour cannot be exchanged for value, unlike land and capital. Labour is used with land and capital and cannot be separated.

Labour is available in return of wages and is not a saleable commodity. While one cannot store labour for future use, the supply of labour is dependent on the need for production. Labour supply is elastic, and it takes time to develop overall supply.

Division of labour emphasises on the speciality of labour in a particular work. Every labour group in an organisation is further classified into various divisions, depending on the quality, skills, knowledge and demand. 

Capital 

Capital is a critical factor of production and largely means wealth, which includes stock of raw material, machinery, tools, building etc. It is also the money available for productive and investment purposes. 

Capital also extends to physical assets such as machinery, raw material that are directly used in the production. Securities such as shares and bonds are not classified because they are not used in production, thus not the factor of production. 

It is largely classified into fixed capital and working capital. Fixed capital is used in the production continuously and incur wear and tear. Fixed capital does not mean it is immovable, but the essence of fixed is the cost incurred, which largely remains fixed over the period of production. 

The cost incurred in working capital is, however, recovered when the product is sold. Such as the cost of raw material, along with other inputs, is a component of the total cost of the good. Capital also includes human capital. 

Human capital is also a vital unit of production and means the education, skills, and health of people. It is essential for the improvement in productivity. It is now understood that investments in human capital provide favourable growth.  

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is vital to confluence the factors of production and manages risk & uncertainty associated with the production. Now it is understood that production is a function of land, labour, capital, and entrepreneurship. 

Entrepreneurship is more concerned with the incorporation of production, rather business affairs, which are managed by other people working on wages. Therefore, an entrepreneur takes the risk and uncertainty associated with production. 

An entrepreneur is responsible for initiating a business enterprise and is engaged in assembling the factors of production, including land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship. Innovation and development are also associated with entrepreneurship. 

Entrepreneurs undertake crucial decision of capital allocation, which may include setting up new factors, purchasing machinery, upgrading skills of human capital, innovating units of production etc. 

Elon Musk is an entrepreneur aspiring to reach mars, produce e-vehicles, launch space travel. He is effectively managing and bringing about the factor of production to achieve results.  

What is an Absolute Advantage? Absolute advantage is one of the key macroeconomic terms, which is based on the principles of Capitalism and is often utilised in international trade-related decisions. Absolute advantage refers to the competence of a company, region or country to produce goods or services in an efficient manner compared to any other economic entity. The efficiency in production can be achieved by: Production of the same quantity of good or services as produced by other entity by utilising fewer amount of resources Production of a higher quantity of good or services as produced by other entity by using the same amount of resources What is the Significance of Absolute Advantage? Different countries or businesses possess a different set of ability owing to their location, soil composition, weather, infrastructure, or human resource skills. When applied in the right direction, various factors may pan out to offer more cost-effectiveness and hence build absolute advantage of the entity in comparison to others.  The absolute advantage remains one of the critical determinants for the choice of the goods or services to be produced. Absolute advantage in a particular area often translates into profitability in the area. The profit margin increases by the achievement of cost efficiency, allowing the entity to ensure higher profitability over the competitors.  For example, let us assume that the US can produce ten high-quality aircrafts utilising a specific amount of resources. China, on the other hand, can build 6 similar quality aircrafts using the same amount of resources. Thus, in the production of an aircraft, the US holds Absolute Advantage Let’s say the US has the ability to manufacture a certain amount of steel using 10 tonnes of iron ore. China, on the other hand, can produce the same quantity of steel using 8 tonnes of iron ore.Here, China here holds Absolute Advantage in the production of steel.  How Countries Build Absolute Advantage? While natural conditions, which include climatic factors, geometry, topography, cannot be altered for achieving absolute advantage, the countries use the underlying factors strategically in their favour. Furthermore, factors of production are focused at by many companies or nations for building absolute advantages.  Some of the strategies for building absolute advantage includes: Development of Technological Competencies- The implementation of innovative or latest technological innovations allows the entities to lower their production cost, facilitating absolute advantage.  Enhancing Skills of Human Resources- The improvement in the cost-efficiency, along with the quality of the products, is targeted through imparting varying skill development programs. Many countries subsidize or aid the apprentice or labour training for enhancing the absolute advantage in trade.  Improving Infrastructure- The infrastructure enhancement in the form of road, telecommunications, ports, etc. can be useful in enhancing the cost-effectiveness across different industries.  What Do We Understand by Comparative Advantage Vs Absolute Advantage? Evaluating the comparative advantage introduces the concept of opportunity cost, which is the deciding factor to determine the production of particular goods or services. Opportunity cost refers to the potential benefits associated with the next best possible alternative which is missed out when one option is chosen over another.  The Absolute advantage simply considers the capability of a business or region to deliver goods or services in the most efficient manner. The Comparative Advantage, however, also takes into account the benefits that are forgone if an entity decides for production of a particular product or services.  Comparative advantage, based on the notion of mutual benefits, is often used in international trade deals. The Comparative advantage has been the major factor driving the outsourcing of services in search of cheap labour.  Understanding through an Example For instance, country A can produce ten televisions with the same amount of resources with which it can make 7 laptops. The opportunity cost per television is 7/10 or 0.7 laptops. Meanwhile, the opportunity cost per laptop is 10/7 or 1.42 television.  It highlights that country A is forsaking the production of 0.7 laptops if it is deciding to manufacture one television. On the other hand, it is missing out the opportunity to manufacture 1.42 televisions for every single laptop manufactured.  Now, say Country B’s opportunity cost for producing a television is 0.5 laptop, and that of producing laptop is 2 televisions. Then, country B will have a comparative advantage in making televisions, and country A will have comparative advantage in producing laptops. It has to be noted that despite country A having absolute advantages in both the products, it would be mutually beneficial for both the countries if country B produces television while country A produces laptops. Do You Know About Absolute Advantage Theory by Adam Smith? The concept of Absolute Advantage was indicated by Adam Smith in his book called ‘Wealth of Nations’ which focusses on International trade theory. Adam Smith, in his book attacked on the previous mercantilism theory, which mainly stressed for economies to maintain trade surplus in order to command power.  The Absolute Advantage theory considered that the countries possess different ability with respect to the production of varying goods or services. It argued that it is not necessary that a state may hold an absolute advantage in the production of all goods, and here the relevance of trade comes into play.  It advocates that countries should produce those goods over which they hold a competitive advantage. It would allow the countries to make the same amount of goods using few resources or in less time. The theory propagates the relevance of trade for economic sustainability.  What Are the Limitations of the Absolute Advantage Theory? The assumptions used in the Absolute Advantage Theory by Adam Smith may limit the application in real bilateral trade. The limitations of the theory by Adam Smith include: Smith assumed that the productive capabilities of a country could not be transferred between the two countries. However, in practical terms, the competitive scenario aids the nations to acquire new capabilities and acquire new resources, especially in the technological and human resource skill aspects.  The two-country trade which was used as a basis for the theory does not consider the trade barriers levied. The present scenario, however, is strikingly dominated by trade wars between economies. Nations impose huge tariffs, import duties and other type of barriers to promote local manufacturers.  Absolute Advantage theory assumes that the trade between the two nations will take place only if each of the two economies holds an absolute advantage in one of the commodities traded. However, in general, countries despite not holding absolute advantage are engrossed in international trade, boosting their economic setup.

Difference between actual and an expected return. For example, if a stock increased by 7% because of some update, but the average market only increased by 3% and the stock has a beta of 1, then the abnormal return was 4% (7% - 3% = 4%)

Gain or loss as a percentage of the initial capital invested. For example – If we gain $10 on investing $100, our Absolute return would be 10% ($10/$100*100)

Calculating the cost of a product or an enterprise based on the direct and the indirect costs (overheads) involved. Multiple methods of absorption costing include Direct labour cost percentage rate, Direct material cost percentage rate, Labour hour rate , Prime cost percentage rate and Machine hour rate.    

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