Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Diseconomies of Scale

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Economics

Have you ever wondered what might be the reason why some companies experience higher average costs with increased output while others don’t? What are some of the factors that impact a firm’s average costs and what can a firm do to reduce its costs?

To answer these questions, you would have to know about the diseconomies of scale. This explanation will help you understand diseconomies of scale.

Diseconomies of scale: definition

Diseconomies of scale point out the relationship between the average costs of a firm and its total output.

Diseconomies of scale occur when a firm experiences an increase in its average costs as its total output increases.

Diseconomies of scale usually occur when a firm does no longer experiences economies of scale.

Economies of scale? Yes, economies of scale are the opposite of diseconomies of scale, as the name suggests. They occur when a company experiences a decrease in average cost as the total output increases.

Check out our 'Economies of Scale' article to learn more about it.

The main difference between the two is that the average cost increases with increases in output when a firm is experiencing diseconomies of scale, and it decreases with an increase in production when experiencing economies of scale.

Diseconomies of scale can be very harmful to a firm. There are many reasons why a firm might experience diseconomies of scale. We will consider some of these reasons later on.

The diseconomies of scale graph

We can depict diseconomies of scale through a diagram, which we can see in figure 1 below.

Diseconomies of Scale Diseconomies of Scale Graph StudySmarterFigure 1. Diseconomies of scale-StudySmarter.

In figure 1, at point C* the firm can produce Q* level of output at the lowest cost possible. After this point, the firm’s cost per additional output produced increases. When the firm moves from producing Q* level of output to Q1, the cost per input increases from C* to C1. When the firm increases its production from Q1 to Q2, the cost per input increases even more, from C1 to C2.

We can further understand how diseconomies of scale work with the example of a coffee shop.

This coffee shop initially has four workers, and all of them can serve 60 customers in an hour. Each employee serves 15 customers in an hour and the coffee shop pays them £10 per hour.

The coffee shop makes a TikTok about their products and it goes viral. This viral video causes 30 more customers to come to the shop in the next hour. Now there are 90 customers waiting to be served.

The coffee shop responds to the increase in demand by quickly hiring two additional workers. These two new workers are also paid £10 an hour.

However, there isn’t enough space for all the workers and the process gets messy and it becomes hard to move around the coffee shop. In the end, the employees are only capable of serving a total of 80 customers.

What has happened to the shop's costs?

Before, the coffee shop was able to serve 60 customers at the cost of £40 per hour, equating to a cost of £0.66 per customer. When the new workers came in, the coffee shop was able to serve 80 customers at the cost of £60 per hour, equating to a cost of £0.75 per customer. So the cost of input has increased for the firm.

Diseconomies of Scale Examples: a coffee shop with 2 extra employees StudySmarterA coffee shop, Pixabay.

Reasons for diseconomies of scale

There are many factors at play when a firm experiences diseconomies of scale. We will look at three of these reasons:

  1. Managerial diseconomies of scale.
  2. Communication failure.
  3. Motivational diseconomies of scale.

Managerial diseconomies of scale

There are many people in large corporations. There are employees, different managers, and different divisions. The bigger the company, the harder it is to manage the entire personnel.

Some managers could make decisions that are not in the firm's best interest. This is especially true for managers who lack the experience and expertise to run their division. As a result, the firm could see the costs of production rise.

Communication failure

This is also a common case amongst large companies. When a firm grows, the layers between the top management and the staff grow. Workers in production may be far from management, and there might not be too much communication between them.

This often makes ordinary workers feel unappreciated and unattended, which discourages them from working. As a result, they are less productive in work, which contributes to an increase in the cost of production.

Imagine the workers in Amazon that work in warehouses and make sure that the goods are delivered on time to Amazon customers. What are the chances they get to meet or communicate with Jeff Bezos, and how does this contribute to productivity and cost per input?

Motivational diseconomies of scale

Some companies are unable to keep their workers’ motivation up. That could be for many reasons. Firstly, it is costly for a company to offer bonuses and incentives to all workers. Moreover, it is hard for companies to pay competitive wages to every worker. This results in the firm attracting less-skilled workers and reduced productivity. As a result, the firm incurs higher costs per input.

Types of diseconomies of scale

There are two main types of diseconomies of scale: internal diseconomies of scale and external diseconomies of scale.

Internal diseconomies of scale

Internal diseconomies of scale are types of diseconomies of scale caused by factors in the firm. There are two main reasons for internal diseconomies of scale: organisational or technical.

Internal diseconomies of scale arising from organisational issues are common because it becomes inefficient to manage a large number of workers. The communication between management and workers becomes more challenging, resulting in workers not receiving the proper instructions.

This contributes to an increase in the diseconomies of scale. Another reason why a firm might face organisational diseconomies of scale could be due to lack of motivation of workers as, usually, in large businesses, ordinary workers feel more isolated.

Technical issues also contribute to a firm’s internal diseconomies of scale. This involves the amount of machinery a firm chooses to include in the production process. If a firm chooses to add 20 more pieces of machinery in the factory, it might increase the cost per input as the production process becomes inefficient.

External diseconomies of scale

External diseconomies of scale occur due to external factors independent of a firm’s production process. The environment and the industry in which a firm operates significantly influence the cost per input a firm faces. The reason for that is that the industry in which the firm is provides an additional constraint in the firm’s production process. Therefore, the firm has limited resources to operate and produce. Some industries might face the cost per input going up because there is a shortage in raw materials.

The supply chain is one of the causes of external diseconomies of scale. The reason for that is that the firm is dependent on other factors to move its goods around. One of those aspects is traffic. If the routes that a company uses to deliver or their goods are always congested, that might cause delays, especially when dealing with distant markets.

Inputs with price inelasticity of supply are also a reason for external diseconomies of scale. Imagine a firm experiences significant growth in demand, and as a result, it needs to produce more output. However, those supplying the input for the firm can’t increase the total output by as much as the price increases. This means that the firm will be paying more but not getting as many inputs, which then causes diseconomies of scale.

Imagine that a firm is located close to another firm that is producing and selling the same thing. The market experiences growth, which causes them both to generate more sales.

However, as they are both located in the same location and compete with one another, they both will be looking to find the labour to match the increase in production. As there are not as many locals in their area, they would have to bid up the salary they pay in order to attract workers. This, in turn, contributes to diseconomies of scale.

Diseconomies of Scale - Key takeaways

  • Diseconomies of scale occur when a firm experiences an increase in its average cost as its total output increases.
  • The main difference between economies and diseconomies of scale is that the average cost increases with increases in output when a firm is experiencing diseconomies of scale, and it decreases with an increase in production when experiencing economies of scale.
  • There are three main reasons for diseconomies of scale: managerial diseconomies of scale, communication failure, and motivational diseconomies of scale.
  • There are two main types of diseconomies of scale: internal diseconomies of scale and external diseconomies of scale.
  • Internal diseconomies of scale can either be organisational or technical.
  • External diseconomies of scale can either be due to the supply chain or the price elasticity of supply.

Diseconomies of Scale

Diseconomies of scale occur when a firm experiences an increase in its average costs as its total output increases.

Three main reasons for diseconomies of scale include managerial diseconomies of scale, communication failure, and motivational diseconomies of scale.

The different diseconomies of scale can either be internal or external diseconomies of scale.

The main difference between the two is that the average cost increases with increases in output when a firm is experiencing diseconomies of scale, and it decreases with an increase in production when experiencing economies of scale.

Diseconomies of scale occur when a firm experiences an increase in its average cost as its total output increases. 


Economies of scale are the opposite of diseconomies of scale. They occur when a company experiences a decrease in average cost as the total output increases.

Final Diseconomies of Scale Quiz

Question

Define diseconomies of scale.

Show answer

Answer

Diseconomies of scale occur when a firm experiences an increase in its average cost as its total output increases.

Show question

Question

What are the 3 reasons for diseconomies of scale?

Show answer

Answer

Managerial diseconomies of scale 

Communication failure 

Motivational diseconomies of scale

Show question

Question

What are the types of diseconomies of scale?


Show answer

Answer

Internal and external diseconomies of scale

Show question

Question

What is the difference between economies and diseconomies of scale?


Show answer

Answer

The main difference between the two is that the average cost increases with increases in output when a firm is experiencing diseconomies of scale, and it decreases with an increase in production when experiencing economies of scale.

Show question

Question

What are economies of scale?

Show answer

Answer

Economies of scale are the opposite of diseconomies of scale, as the name might suggest. They occur when a company experiences a decrease in average cost as the total output increases.

Show question

Question

Explain managerial diseconomies of scale.

Show answer

Answer

When you have large corporations, you have many people in a company, and as a result, you would have to hire different managers for different positions and different divisions of the company. It becomes hard to manage the entire personnel, and some managers could make decisions that are not in the firm's best interest. 

Show question

Question

Explain how communication failure can cause diseconomies of scale.

Show answer

Answer

Failure in communication is another reason why firms experience diseconomies of scale. This is a case that is common amongst large companies. When a firm grows, the layers between the top management and the staff grows. Workers in production may be far from management, and there might not be too much. communication in between them. 

Show question

Question

Explain motivational diseconomies of scale.

Show answer

Answer

Some companies are unable to keep their worker’s motivation up. That could be for many reasons. Firstly, it is costly for a company to offer bonuses and incentives to all workers. Moreover, it is hard for companies to pay competitive wages to every worker.

Show question

Question

Why can't large firms motivate all their workers?

Show answer

Answer

Firstly, it is costly for a company to offer bonuses and incentives to all workers. Moreover, it is hard for companies to pay competitive wages to every worker.

Show question

Question

What are internal diseconomies of scale?

Show answer

Answer

Internal diseconomies of scale are types of diseconomies of scale which are caused by factors within the firm. 

Show question

Question

What type of diseconomies of scale does a firm with organisational challenges have?

Show answer

Answer

Internal diseconomies of scale.

Show question

Question

Why could organisational problems lead to internal diseconomies of scale?

Show answer

Answer

Internal diseconomies of scale arising from organisational issues are common because it becomes inefficient to manage a large number of workers. The communication between management and workers becomes more challenging, resulting in workers not receiving the proper instructions. This contributes to an increase in the diseconomies of scale. 

Show question

Question

What type of diseconomies of scale has a firm that experiences technical issues in the production process?

Show answer

Answer

Internal diseconomies of scale

Show question

Question

Explain external diseconomies of scale.

Show answer

Answer

External diseconomies of scale occur due to external factors independent of the firm’s production process. 

Show question

Question

How does price inelasticity of supply affect diseconomies of scale?

Show answer

Answer

Inputs with price inelasticity of supply are also a reason for external diseconomies of scale. Imagine a firm experiences significant growth in demand, and as a result, it needs to produce more output. However, those supplying the input for the firm can’t increase the total output by as much as the price increase. This means that the firm will be paying more but not getting as many inputs, which then causes diseconomies of scale.

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Diseconomies of Scale quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.