By Tex.) Symposium in Applied Mathematics (1976 San Antonio, Peter D. Lax, American Mathematical Society
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There is no mention of the fact that inputs normally have to precede outputs. One of the consequences of the assumption of instantaneity is that the function omits an essential input. That input is finance. Because production takes time, inputs have to be acquired before their output becomes available for sale. During that interval the firm has to provide fmance, either in the form of liquid assets or by credits from suppliers. In the use of fixed capital, the interval between input and output is usually several years, and the amount of bridging fmance required is correspondingly large.
The possibility of producing more cheaply on a larger scale is not 'given' by a ready-made production function. It can be realised only by great effort, imagination, and willingness to take risks. If a firm succeeds in reducing unit costs by expansion (and not all do), it is usually the result of step-by-step experiment, or trial and error. In a few cases, a firm that has already developed the technology for producing efficiently on a large scale will start on a 'greenfield' site, or in another country, and immediately go into operation on the desired scale.
Recognition of this flaw is the basis of Leibenstein's (1966) concept of 'X-inefficiency'. But he moved only to a halfWay house. While continuing to accept that there 'is' somewhere an ideal production function, he drew attention to the fact that not all firms manage to make it work as it should. His main point was that workers do not always make as much effort as they would do if differently organised or given better incentives. There is often overmanning and organisational 'slack'. As a result, workers may lose interest in their work and begin to take things easy.