Uncertainty, Capacity and Flexibility: the Monopoly Case
It is generally expected that profit maximisation leads a firm to choose a more flexible plant the more uncertain its demand function is and/or the more variable is the sequence of quantities to produce. In this paper we make explicit the precise conditions under which this intuitive argument is valid. We show that a sufficient condition is that the increase in uncertainty must involve only those states of demand for which the firm is initially active, that is for which it is able to cover quasi-fixed and variable costs. These are common assumptions in most flexibility choice models. But we also show that a reverse relation between the variability in demand and plant flexibility may exist under reasonable cost and demand conditions, even under the most common definition of increased uncertainty in demand and the most acceptable notion of plant flexibility. We give an example of such an inverse relation.
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