The concept of cost along with demand and supply constitute three of the basic areas of managerial economics. Analysis of cost is essential when it comes to large-scale production, where the firm is in a position to factorize the economies of scale. For a profit-maximizing firm, the decision to add a new product is done by comparing additional revenues to additional costs associated with that project.
Decisions on capital investment are made by comparing rate of return on investment with the opportunity cost of the funds used to make capital acquisition. Costs are equally important in non-profit sector. For example, to obtain funding for a new dam, a government agency has to demonstrate that the value of the benefits of the dam like flood control and water supply, will exceed the cost of the project.
It is necessary that we define the term ‘cost’ for better understanding. The traditional definition tends to focus on the explicit and historical dimensions of cost. In contrast, the economic approach to cost emphasizes opportunity cost rather than historical and includes both explicit and implicit costs.
Opportunity costs are fundamental costs in economics, and are used in computing cost benefit analysis of a project. Such costs, however, are not recorded in the account books but are recognized in decision making by computing the cash outlays and their resulting profit or loss.
Opportunity cost is the minimum price that would be necessary to retain a factor-service in it’s given use. It is also defined as the cost of sacrificed alternatives. For instance, a person chooses to forgo his present lucrative job which offers him Rs.50000 per month, and organizes his own business. The opportunity lost (earning Rs. 50,000) will be the opportunity cost of running his own business.