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Short Run


In finance, the term ‘Short Run’ refers to a period of time during which at least one factor of production is fixed, usually capital. It’s a timeframe where companies can’t significantly alter or change their production levels due to constraints. This is contrasted with the ‘Long Run’ where all factors of production can be varied.


The phonetic transcription of the word “Short Run” is /ʃɔːrt rʌn/.

Key Takeaways

  1. Definition: In economics, the term “short run” refers to a period of time in which certain economic factors and conditions have no significant change. Only some variables can be adjusted within this time frame, in contrast to the long run where all factors of production can be altered.
  2. Fixed and Variable Factors: In the short run, some factors of production are fixed, like the capital, land, or the premises of the firm. Variable factors include labor and raw materials, which can be adjusted depending on the business activities and requirements.
  3. Short Run Costs: In the short run, businesses face both fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs do not change with the level of output, such as rent or salaries. Variable costs, on the other hand, vary directly with the level of output, like costs for raw materials or additional overtime wages.


The term “Short Run” is important in business or finance as it pertains to a period in which at least one factor of production is fixed, typically capital assets such as factories and machinery. This is a crucial concept because it helps businesses understand the constraints and limitations they face when they need to alter production levels in response to changes in demand, competition, or market conditions. The short run framework allows companies to assess their variable costs (such as labor and raw materials), their fixed costs (like rent and utilities), and how to balance these costs for optimal productivity and profitability. It provides essential insights into the immediate consequences of business decisions, thereby informing strategies for cost management, pricing, scale, resource allocation, and overall operational efficiency.


The short run in finance and business is a concept used to describe a period in which at least one input, such as labor or capital, is fixed and cannot be changed. The purpose of this term is to help businesses analyze their production and costs within a certain temporal frame where some elements remain constant, which can enable them to make immediate strategic decisions. For example, a company might be able to hire more workers or add more hours to a work-day in the short run, but it might not be able to expand its warehouse or production facilities due to these being fixed inputs in the short term. Its crucial usefulness in business decision-making processes makes it a significant component of microeconomic theory. The short run is indispensable for understanding a company’s cost structures and the behavior of its costs. It provides a lens through which businesses can scrutinize and optimize their processes to maximize profitability under current constraints. Businesses can analyze their short run costs to help decide whether to increase or reduce production or understand how changes in production volumes may impact their costs and profitability. Understanding the short run is therefore critical not only for operational efficiency but also for strategic planning and adaptability.


1. Car Manufacturing: Suppose a car manufacturing company experienced a sudden increase in demand for their new model and needs to produce more vehicles quickly. In the short run, the company may decide to increase production by having its workers put in overtime rather than investing in new machinery or expanding the factory, which would be a long-term solution.2. Restaurant During a Festival: A restaurant situated near a popular festival may experience an unexpected spike in customers during the event days. In the short run, they cannot change their restaurant’s seating capacity or build a new outlet to cater to the increased demand. So, they might hire temporary workers, extend working hours or add outdoor seating to handle the crowd.3. Seasonal Goods: A business selling seasonal goods like winter jackets may decide to manufacture a specific number of jackets, expecting that to be the demand for the short run. If the demand turns out to be higher unexpectedly, they might need to pay more for rush orders or overtime labor to fulfill the higher demand, which are short run solutions. In the long run, if they realize the demand is consistently higher, they may invest in additional facilities or machinery to increase production capacity.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Short Run in Finance and Business?

The Short Run is an economic concept that represents a period of time in which at least one factor of production is fixed. It’s typically associated with a time frame during which existing contracts, production capacity, or cost structures cannot easily or quickly be altered.

How does Short Run differ from Long Run in economics?

In contrast to the Short Run, the Long Run in economics is a period where all factors of production – including capital, labor, technology etc., are considered variable. In the long run, a firm has enough time to alter all aspects of its production process.

How does Short Run impact decision-making in businesses?

Short run decision-making often involves dealing with constraints or fixed factors, such as existing output capacity or contractual obligations. Decisions in the short run may focus on how to best utilize these fixed resources to maximize profit or efficiency.

Can the Short Run affect prices?

Yes. In the Short Run, if demand exceeds the fixed level of supply, it can push up prices. Similarly, if there is excess capacity or supply, it can lead to price cuts.

Why is Short Run important in terms of production?

The concept of a Short Run is very helpful in understanding the behavior of firms and how they react to changes in economic conditions. It helps firms in planning production schedules based on the limits of their existing resources and contracts.

Are there any limitations to decisions made in the Short Run?

Yes, because in the short run, at least one factor of production is kept constant, limiting the firm’s ability to fully adjust its production process in response to changes in market conditions. This differs from the long run, where all factors of production are variable.

How is Short Run analysed in microeconomic theory?

In microeconomics, the Short Run can be analyzed using concepts like the law of diminishing returns, where beyond a certain point, each additional unit of variable input yields less and less output.

Can Short Run apply to any industry or just specific ones?

The concept of Short Run applies to all industries and businesses. It’s a universal concept used to understand the time frame in which at least one business aspect cannot be changed or adjusted.

Related Finance Terms

  • Variable Costs: Costs that change in direct proportion to the level of production or business services.
  • Marginal Cost: The cost incurred by producing one more unit of goods or services.
  • Fixed Costs: Costs that do not change with the level of output or services provided, within the short run.
  • Total Cost: Sum of fixed costs and variable costs within a specific period.
  • Supply Curve: This represents the relationship between the market price of a product and the quantity of it that sellers are willing to produce and sell, with a steeper slope in the short run.

Sources for More Information

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