بازنگری استفاده از سرمایه و ظرفیت: تئوری کمکی فناوری اطلاعات و ارتباطات سیستم های تولید
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|18058||2007||18 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Volume 18, Issue 2, June 2007, Pages 231–248
In this paper we present a framework as how to analyze capital and capacity utilization issues with reference to production processes heavily characterized by the use of ICT. We derive this framework by developing in original way the fund–flow model of Georgescu-Roegen, one of the pioneers of the capital utilization analysis, since this model is able to capture many qualitative aspects of production, above all the issue of the different time profile of use of the production elements. In the economic literature capital utilization is often equated with capacity utilization. However, if we refer to the neo-classical production analysis, this is true only if there is but one fixed input (capital) and if production is characterized by constant returns of scale. In a different way, we study capital and capacity utilization issues under the hypothesis of increasing returns of scale, particularly significative in ICT-assisted productions. The main contribution of the paper is to show that an important way of varying capital utilization is through the flexibility of a ‘machine’ to perform some tasks at the same time and the ability of ICT to exploit economically these possibilities. The analysis addresses a partial equilibrium level. Moreover, we show as our framework could be extended to include the case of multi-production with heterogeneous capital.
In the last two decades the massive use of information and communication technologies (ICT) has made it possible to perform any production task more accurately, by fine-tuning and improving the utilization of the installed capacity (see Nightingale et al., 2003). The diffusion of ICT has been particularly pervasive in the case of large technical systems such as telecommunications, electric power and railroads, where the production of services is characterized by temporal and spatial variability requiring high flexibility in assigning facilities to user requests.2 However, the same happened in many manufacturing sectors where one can see a tertiarization and dematerialization of the process of production which tends to meet requirements by means of an integrated series of activities rather than by simply supplying commodities (see Amendola and Gaffard, 1988; p. 12): in these cases the use of “systemic” microelectronics and telecommunications have simplified the management of complex information and the coordination of different activities increasing the levels of utilization of capital, by reducing idle times of the production process, and improving the matching of inputs to output also in the production of goods. From a theoretical perspective, the relations between capital and capacity utilization and features of the production processes are difficult to analyze and many times they are neglected in the economic literature. This could depend, among other things, on the fact that, according to the traditional analysis of firm, production is viewed as a black box into which inputs are placed and somehow transformed into a quantity of some product. This is so with reference to the neo-classical production function that describes the maximum quantity producible from the vector of inputs, but the same is true in alternative models, wherein production is viewed as a process, with steps or stages3: also in this case the level at which an activity is conducted is usually viewed as functionally related to the inputs engaged in that activity (see Neill, 2005).4 As a result of this approach, many specific features of the production process (as the arrangement of production, the time profile of use of the production elements, economic indivisibility versus technical (in)divisibility aspects) are often completely overlooked.5 As we shall see in the following, the qualitative aspects of production have very different effects on the level and the way of utilization of capital and capacity. Moreover, many writers use the terms ‘capital utilization’ and ‘capacity utilization’ interchangeably (see Betancourt, 1987). However, capital utilization and capacity utilization are two distinct issues. The first6 refers to the variation of the level of daily utilization of the machine corresponding to a variation of the duration of operations within the day,7 the latter8 refers to the variation in the variable inputs employed with a given machine per day relative to some maximum or optimum daily output,9 the duration of operations being constant within the day (see Betancourt, 1987). In other term, the distinction between capital and capacity utilization relates to underutilizing a given capital stock (or producing less than the maximum physical output, where capacity utilization is always less than 1) and to producing below or above the optimum output (where it is possible to have capacity utilization > 1 or < 1).10 Thus, capital utilization captures how much of the existing capital stock is being used and capacity utilization provides information about short-run versus long-run equilibrium and economic incentives for investment and disinvestment (see FAO, 2003; Chapter 2). Equating the capital stock and capital utilization to capacity and capacity utilization implicitly assumes a linear relationship between the capital stock and capacity and the two corresponding utilization rates. These measures coincide only if there is but one fixed input (a single stock of capital), all variable inputs are in fixed proportions to the fixed input, and if production is characterized by constant returns to scale (Berndt, 1990 and Berndt and Fuss, 1989). Thus, given a constant optimal capital–output ratio View the MathML sourceg=Kt/Yt*, capacity output View the MathML sourceYt* can be expected to vary directly with the observed capital stock Kt (see Berndt, 1990). 11 Unfortunately, increasing returns of scale and multi-production with heterogeneous capital are pivotal features of many modern productions, above all of the ICT-assisted productions. In this paper we present an original framework to analyze capital and capacity utilization issues with reference to production processes heavily characterized from the use of ICT. We derive our framework by developing in original way the fund–flow model of Georgescu-Roegen, 1965 and Georgescu-Roegen, 1970. As it well-known, the fund–flow model of Georgescu-Roegen exploits the idea of increasing the capital utilization by means of a better coordination of the production elements.12 From the fund–flow model we know that an arrangement in line of the production leads to the total elimination of the idleness of capital. This arrangement has characterized industrial production based on the factory system. We present briefly the fund–flow model and its recent development in Section 2. In Section 3 we extend this model of capital utilization to include heavily ICT-assisted production systems. Starting from this framework, in Section 4 we develop a production theory that allows to analyze the capacity utilization issue under the hypothesis of increasing returns of scale. The analysis addresses at a partial equilibrium level. Moreover, we show as our framework could be extended to include the case of multi-production with heterogeneous capital.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In this paper we presented a framework as how to analyze capital and capacity utilization issues with reference to ICT-assisted production systems. We derived this framework by developing in an original way the fund–flow model of Georgescu-Roegen, one of the pioneers of the capital utilization analysis, since this model is able to capture many qualitative aspects of production, above all the issue of the different time profile of use of the production elements. In the neo-classical world capital utilization is equated with capacity utilization: it is possible only if there is but one fixed input (capital) and if production is characterized by constant returns of scale. In a different way, we analyze capital and capacity utilization issues under the hypothesis of increasing returns of scale and multi-production with heterogeneous capital, particularly important in ICT-assisted productions. The main contribution of the paper is to show that an important way of varying capital utilization is through the flexibility of a ‘machine’ to perform some tasks at the same time and the ability of ICT to exploit economically these possibilities. When capacity/investments irreversible choices, that involve less frequent interactions than price decision, are determinant factors for the outcome of competition, and if capacities are long-lived, our result concerning the law of sub-multiples for minimum efficient scale of ICT-assisted production systems predicts a more contestable market arrangement in a comparative dynamic exercise. Similar to the wide and rapid diffusion of electricity and the steam engine, ICT are increasingly acknowledged as a General Purpose Technology (see Craft, 2004) that penetrates all sectors of the economy and entails large potentials of improving the utilization of capital and capacity. Because of this it is our belief that the proposed analysis marks out the fundamentals for a new production theory.