Theory of Production: Production Function

In economics, production theory explains the principles in which the business has to take decisions on how much of each commodity it sells and how much it produces and also how much of raw material ie., fixed capital and labor it employs and how much it will use. It defines the relationships between the prices of the commodities and productive factors on one hand and the quantities of these commodities and productive factors that are produced on the other hand.


Production is a process of combining various inputs to produce an output for consumption. It is the act of creating output in the form of a commodity or a service which contributes to the utility of individuals.

In other words, it is a process in which the inputs are converted into outputs.


The Production function signifies a technical relationship between the physical inputs and physical outputs of the firm, for a given state of the technology.

Q = f (a, b, c, . . . . . . z)

Where a,b,c ….z are various inputs such as land, labor ,capital etc. Q is the level of the output for a firm.

If labor (L) and capital (K) are only the input factors, the production function reduces to 

Q = f(L, K)

Production Function describes the technological relationship between inputs and outputs. It is a tool that analysis the qualitative input – output relationship and also represents the technology of a firm or the economy as a whole.

Features of Production Function:

Following are the main features of production function:

  1. Substitutability:

The factors of production or inputs are substitutes of one another which make it possible to vary the total output by changing the quantity of one or a few inputs, while the quantities of all other inputs are held constant. It is the substitutability of the factors of production that gives rise to the laws of variable proportions.

  1. Complementarity:

The factors of production are also complementary to one another, that is, the two or more inputs are to be used together as nothing will be produced if the quantity of either of the inputs used in the production process is zero.

The principles of returns to scale is another manifestation of complementarity of inputs as it reveals that the quantity of all inputs are to be increased simultaneously in order to attain a higher scale of total output.

  1. Specificity:

It reveals that the inputs are specific to the production of a particular product. Machines and equipment’s, specialized workers and raw materials are a few examples of the specificity of factors of production. The specificity may not be complete as factors may be used for production of other commodities too. This reveals that in the production process none of the factors can be ignored and in some cases ignorance to even slightest extent is not possible if the factors are perfectly specific.

Production involves time; hence, the way the inputs are combined is determined to a large extent by the time period under consideration. The greater the time period, the greater the freedom the producer has to vary the quantities of various inputs used in the production process.

In the production function, variation in total output by varying the quantities of all inputs is possible only in the long run whereas the variation in total output by varying the quantity of single input may be possible even in the short run.

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