Managerial economics applies economic theory and methods to business and administrative decision making. Managerial economics prescribes rules for improving managerial decisions. Managerial economics also helps managers recognize how economic forces affect organizations and describes the economic consequences of managerial behavior. It links economic concepts with quantitative methods to develop vital tools for managerial decision making.
Managerial economics identifies ways to efficiently achieve goals. For example, suppose a small business seeks rapid growth to reach a size that permits efficient use of national media advertising. Managerial economics can be used to identify pricing and production strategies to help meet this short-run objective quickly and effectively. Similarly, managerial economics provides production and marketing rules that permit the company to maximize net profits once it has achieved growth or market share objectives.
Managerial economics has applications in both profit and not-for-profit sectors. For example, an administrator of a nonprofit hospital strives to provide the best medical care possible given limited medical staff, equipment, and related resources. Using the tools and concepts of managerial economics, the administrator can determine the optimal allocation of these limited resources.
In short, managerial economics helps managers arrive at a set of operating rules that aid in the efficient use of scarce human and capital resources. By following these rules, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies are able to meet objectives efficiently.
Making the Best Decision
To establish appropriate decision rules, managers must understand the economic environment in which they operate. For example, a grocery retailer may offer consumers a highly price-sensitive product, such as milk, at an extremely low markup over cost—say, 1 percent to 2 percent—while offering less price-sensitive products, such as nonprescription drugs, at markups of as high as 40 percent over cost. Managerial economics describes the logic of this pricing practice with respect to the goal of profit maximization. Similarly, managerial economics reveals that auto import quotas reduce the availability of substitutes for domestically produced cars, raise auto prices, and create the possibility of monopoly profits for domestic manufacturers. It does not explain whether imposing quotas is good public policy; that is a decision involving broader political considerations. Managerial economics only describes the predictable economic consequences of such actions.
Managerial economics offers a comprehensive application of economic theory and methodology to management decision making. It is as relevant to the management of government agencies, cooperatives, schools, hospitals, museums, and similar not-for-profit institutions as it is to the management of profit-oriented businesses. Although this text focuses primarily on business applications, it also includes examples and problems from the government and nonprofit sectors to illustrate the broad relevance of managerial economics.