Assignment: Maximizing Profits in Market Structures Paper XECO/212 University of Phoenix The structure of a market is defined by the number of firms in the market, the existence or otherwise of barriers to entry of new firms, and the interdependence among firms in determining pricing and output to maximize profits. This paper covers the following: the advantages and limitation of supply and demand, the characteristics of each market structure, the barriers to entry and how organizations in each market structure maximize profits.
Markets are the heart and soul of a capitalist economy, and varying degrees of competition lead to different market structures, with differing implications for the outcomes of the market place. The goal of a firm is to maximize profits, to get as much for the firm as possible. In the perfect competition, each firm maximizes profits where marginal revenue (MR) equals marginal cost (MC). That is, the additional revenue from producing additional quantity equals the additional cost incurred in producing that quantity.
At an output where MR is greater than MC, increasing production increases profits. If MR is less than MC, decreasing production increases profits. Therefore, MR=MC is the profit-maximization condition. In perfect completion, the price is a given for each firm, P=MR. This is because the fixed price per unit is the additional revenue the firm can expect to earn by selling additional quantity. The firm’s profit- maximization condition becomes P=MR=MC. In the long run, however, all costs are variable.
All firms in a perfectly competitive market make zero economic profit in the long run, because if profit was being made, more firms would enter the market and market prices would decline until all firms made zero profit. These elements are perfect competition, monopolistic competition, oligopoly, and monopoly. Based on the differing outcomes of different market structures, economists consider some market structures more desirable, from the point of view of the society, than others. Each of these market structures describe a particular organization of a market in which ertain key characteristics differ. The characteristics are: (a) number of firms in the market, (b) control over the price of the relevant product, (c) type of the product sold in the market, (d) barriers to new firms entering the market, and (e) existence of non-price competition in the market. The number of firms in the market supplying the particular product under consideration forms an important basis for classifying market structures. The number of firms in an industry, according to economists, determines the extent of competition in the industry.
Both in perfect competition and monopolistic competition, there are large numbers of firms or suppliers. Each of these firms supplies only a small portion of the total output for the industry. In oligopoly, there are only a few (presumably more than two) suppliers of the product. When there are only two sellers of the product, the market structure is often called duopoly. Monopoly is the extreme case where there is only one seller of the product in the market. The extent to which an individual firm exercises control over the price of the product it sells is another important characteristic of a market structure.
Under perfect competition, an individual firm has no control over the price of the product it sells. A firm under monopolistic competition or oligopoly has some control over the price of the product it sells. Finally, a monopoly firm is deemed to have considerable control over the price of its product. The type of products sold in the market is also a key characteristic. The extent to which products of different firms in the industry can be differentiated is also a characteristic that is used in classifying market structures. Under perfect competition, all firms in the industry sell identical products.
In other words, no firm can differentiate its product from those of other firms in the industry. There is some product differentiation under monopolistic competition—the firms in the industry are assumed to produce somewhat different products. Under an oligopolistic market structure, firms may produce differentiated or identical products. Finally, in the case of a monopoly, product differentiation is not truly an issue, as there is only one firm—there are no other firms from whom it should differentiate its product. The barriers to entry need to be accounted for while classifying the characteristics of a market structure.
The difficulty or ease with which new firms can enter the market for a product is also a characteristic of market structures. New firms can enter market structures classified as perfect competition or monopolistic competition relatively easily. In these cases, barriers to entry are considered low, as only a small investment may be required to enter the market. In oligopoly, barriers to entry is considered very high—huge amounts of investment, determined by the very nature of the product and the production process, are needed to enter these markets.
Once again, monopoly constitutes the extreme case where the entry of new firms is blocked, usually by law. If for whatever reasons, new firms are allowed to enter a monopolistic market structure, it can no longer be termed a monopoly. Market structures also differ to the extent that firms in industry compete with each other on the basis of non-price factors, such as, differences in product characteristics and advertising. There is no non-price competition under perfect competition. Firms under monopolistic competition make considerable use of instruments of non-price competition.
Oligopolistic firms also make heavy use of non-price competition. Finally, while a monopolist also utilizes instruments of non-price competition, such as advertising, these are not designed to compete with other firms, as there are no other firms in the monopolist’s industry. Perfect competition is an idealized version of market structure that provides a foundation for understanding how markets work in a capitalist economy. The other market structures can also be understood better when perfect competition is used as a standard of reference. Even so, perfect competition is not ordinarily well understood by the general public.
For example, when business people speak of intense competition in the market for a product, they are, in all likelihood, referring to rival suppliers, about whom they have quite a bit of information. However, when economists refer to perfect competition, they are particularly referring to the impersonal nature of this market structure. The impersonality of the market organization is due to the existence of a large number of suppliers of the product—there are so many suppliers in the industry that no firm views another supplier as a competitor.
Thus, the competition under perfect competition is impersonal. Perfect competition is considered desirable for society for at least two reasons. First, the price charged to individuals equals the marginal cost of production to each firm. In other words, one can say sellers charge buyers a reasonable or fair price. Second, in general, output produced under a perfectly competitive market structure is larger than other market organizations. Thus, perfect competition becomes desirable also for the amount of the product supplied to consumers as a whole.
Monopoly can be considered the opposite of perfect competition. In the monopoly, there are no price takers – a monopolist sets the price for the product or service to maximize profits. The profit-maximizing price and output is at the point where MC=MR. The output is less than what it is in the perfect competition. In the long run, it is possible for a monopolist to earn some economic profits, if to entry of new firms exist. The concept of monopoly arises when one firm is the sole producer and marketer of a product or service.
Monopolies come in being when a single firm is the sole producer of a product that has no close substitutes. Monopolies are characterized by a single seller, no close substitutes, price maker, blocked entry and non price competition. In the oligopoly, there are few firms, pricing and output decisions are strategic; that is each firm considers the reaction of the other firms while taking any decision. An important characteristic of an oligopolistic market structure is the interdependence of firms in the industry. The interdependence, actual or perceived, arises from the small number of firms in the industry.
If an oligopolistic firm changes its price or output, it has perceptible effects on the sales and profits of its competitors in the industry. Thus, an oligopolist firm always considers the reactions of its rivals in formulating its pricing or output decisions. The prices set by all firms are nearly identical, because any effort to change the price by one firm will induce other firms to follow suit. For this reason, prices, once fixed, tend to change very little in oligopoly. Firms in oligopoly can expect to make some profit in the long run. An oligopolistic industry is also typically characterized by economies of scale.
Economies of scale in production imply that as the level of production rises, the cost per unit of product falls for the use of any plant. Thus, economies of scale lead to an obvious advantage for a large producer. In the monopolistic competition, there are many buyers and sellers, and there are few barriers to the entry of new firms. Each firm, however, sells differentiated products, and invests considerably in differentiating it products from the competition. The profits of each are maximized at the point where MR=MC. In the long run, however, the free entry and exit of firms means that all firms earn zero economic profit.
As in the case of perfect competition, a firm under monopolistic competition decides about the quantity of the product produced on the basis of the profit maximization principle—it produces the quantity that maximizes the firm’s profit. Also, conditions of profit maximization remain the same—the firm stops production where marginal revenue equals marginal cost of production. But unlike perfect competition, a firm under monopolistic competition has some control over the price it charges, as the firm differentiates its products from those of others.
However, this price making power of a monopolistically competitive firm is rather small, since there are a large number of other firms in the industry with somewhat similar products. REFERENCE Colander, D. C. , (2004). Economics, 5th edition. Irwin/McGraw-Hill, Burr Ridge, Il. Chapter 13. Retrieved November 23, 2009. Forgang, William G. , Einolf, Karl W. (2006). Management Economics: An Accelerated Approach. M. E. Sharpe Competition (2007). Encyclopedia of Business, 2nd Edition. Retrieved on November 23, 2009 from Encyclopedia of Business, Clo-con website: http://www. referenceforbusiness. com/encyclopedia/Clo-Con/Competition. html