• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Is profit maximisation the key objective of a firm?

Extracts from this document...


Economics for Business Is Profit Maximisation always the major objective of a firm? The production of goods and services in our economy today takes place within organisations, whether in the centrally planned economy or free market economy. Any firm within these societies all have the same tendencies to acquire a successful business. Attaining this succession through mission statements, goals and objectives is simultaneous through all businesses. Changes in these objectives can have forcible effects on the decisions that firms take day-to-day regarding pricing, output levels, the market and capital investment. Depending on the size of the corporation, objectives will evolve to meet changing economic conditions. The standard neo-classical assumption is that a business strives to maximize profits. Profit maximization is the process by which a firm determines the price and output level that returns the greatest profit, where marginal cost is equal to the marginal revenue. The theory of a firm tends to make this assumption because despite the growing importance for market survival and frequent calls for corporate social responsibility, creating a profit appears to be the most significant single objective of organisations in our market economy. Economists' have used the traditional profit maximization theory as a matter of debate whether the firm survives and develops in order to provide a profit or makes a profit by which it can survive and develop. ...read more.


Thus in many firms there is what is called the division of ownership and control. The separation of ownership and control raises worries that the management team may pursue objectives attractive to them but which are not necessarily beneficial to the shareholders. This conflict is what is known as the principal agent theory. As defined by Hornby, Gammie and Wall (Pg 164, 2001), the P-A theory, "considers the relationship between the owners of the firm and the managers and also the relationship between the managers and those they manage." The relationship occurs when one person, the principle, employs an agent to perform tasks on their behalf. It is assumed that each wants to maximize his or her profit but that each is subject to constraints. In this case, shareholders are the principals who employ the managers to maximize profits on their behalf. The concept of principal-agent can explore in greater detail the barriers imposed for each party involved. Recited from Worthington, Britton and Rees (Pg 41, 2001), "firstly there is an imbalance in power between the principal and the agent; secondly there is likely to be a divergence of interests between the principal and the agent and the possibility of opportunism exists." One problem in assuming that businesses set price and output to maximize profits is the decision-taking; where the divorce between ownership and control, can be difficult to monitor. ...read more.


The initial theory devised was known as the sales revenue maximization model, created by W J Baumol (1958). His theory implied that managers will seek to maximize the number of sales rather than profit. The reason for this is because the managers' salaries and power may depend directly on sales performance. Another constraint related to the maximization model insists that the shareholders will require a minimum profit level to keep them happy. Once the model has been applied there is continuing scope for managers to pursue their own goals. Another theory appointed by Williamson (1963) is known as the managerial utility maximization model. As defined by Brewster (1997), Williamson's theory "examined in detail the discretionary behaviour of managers" (Pg 184). Managers in any business are likely to seek their own satisfaction or utility, although according to Williamson, this is subject to obtaining a minimum level of profit. As with Baumol's model, Williamson dictates that there is a separation of ownership and control and the pressure to maximize profit is more relaxed. A manager's utility will hinge upon their power, status and role enjoyment. In turn these are enhanced by expenditure on discretionary items including: * Increasing personnel levels which increase the managers span of control and relative 'weight' in the firm. * Expenditure on 'perks' or non-pecuniary remuneration enhance the manager's status and power. * The size of the budget the manager controls and what interests rather than enhancing profit. Williamson also identified the concept of profit 'satisficing'. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Microeconomics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Microeconomics essays

  1. Benetton Group: The evolution of a network to face global competition.

    By doing so, it is possible that suppliers may partake in opportunistic behaviour, for instance 'a supplier may decrease the quality of work they undertake; a supplier may withhold the latest technology; or, most commonly, a supplier may act to raise its prices' (Lonsdale, Cox, 1998).

  2. The Sport Obermeyer case

    The clothing worn by his students were less stylish and provided little shielding than clothes made in his native Germany. These experiences led Klaus to introduce a variety of skiwear products. He is credited in making the first goose down vest out of an old down comforter.

  1. Process control at Polaroid.

    2.805 2.819 0.094 B 2.85 2.804 2.805 2.806 2.807 2.807 2.813 0.046 C 2.803 2.803 2.773 2.837 2.808 2.808 2.805 0.064 11-Aug A 2.815 2.804 2.803 2.804 2.803 2.802 2.805 0.013 B 2.782 2.806 2.806 2.804 2.803 2.802 2.801 0.024 C 2.779 2.807 2.808 2.803 2.803 2.803 2.801 0.029 12-Aug

  2. The operations strategy of ACC - The key elements that form the operations strategy ...

    In his view ACC should copy the Japanese concept. Pro: * Copying the Kawasaki concept will make it possible to reduce cost. * Better use of assets through better configuration of your resources. * Anticipating DJC arrival by conducting this strategy will discourage DJC to enter the American market.

  1. Risk Management. What is Risk ?

    SUBJECTIVE ASSESSMENT OF RISK After appropriate models have been constructed , is the turn of the person to make the decision of taking or not a risk . This person would have his/her own 'subjective' perception of risk . This particular person has particular ideas and concepts of risk which

  2. Investigating Business - Aims and Objectives of Land Rover.

    estate * It is near the town of Solihull * 6-7 miles from Birmingham city centre. * Just off the M42. * Near to Birmingham International Airport * In the West Midlands * A lot of the cars are sold overseas.

  1. Explain what is implied by the assumption that decision makers are rational? How is ...

    This states that the consumer 'acts to obtain the highest possible well-being for himself given available information about opportunities'. This is assuming rationality as it is defined by the utility function and focused on optimisation. Rationality in economics can also be seen in the formation of negative externalities.

  2. How will a firms pricing strategy depend on the structure of the market?

    Whereby a firm benefits from having a lower cost per unit due to the size of production, with a potential new firm not benefiting from economies of scale, it would be hard to enter this market. Therefore a monopoly has no direct competition so is free to set its own prices.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work