Bottleneck (economy)

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Bottleneck (or bottleneck , constriction ; English bottleneck ) is in the economy an organizational vulnerability , which at a considered time period , the highest capacity in the entire process chain comprises and thereby the operation inhibits.


The flow rate of a liquid from a bottle is determined by its narrowest point, the bottle neck. The narrower the neck of the bottle, the less liquid can escape. Without the bottle neck, the outflow velocity would be much higher. The bottleneck as a metaphor is particularly used in transport logistics and computer technology . The Business Administration and Economics , however mostly prefer the term bottleneck. Bottleneck and bottleneck are each the minimum sector of a system, whereby the overall planning has to be based on the minimum sector according to the “Planning Compensation Law” formulated by business economist Erich Gutenberg .

Congestion and bottlenecks are synonyms, because linguistically the bottleneck is a Bedeutungsentlehnung an existing English word, with both bottleneck and shortage of English "bottleneck" to translate. As a semantic analogy , the bottleneck is therefore always a bottleneck and a bottleneck is always a bottleneck - contrary to what a single source claims.

Scientific aspects

A bottleneck can often be identified optically from a queue and is the result of the interaction of material, information and people. Most parts flow at the bottleneck of parallel patch process of production in a subsequent cycle element together. If this merging is not synchronized , there will be waiting times if the subsequent process does not have the capacity to process all the elements flowing into it at peak times in a timely manner.

Scientific bottlenecks are Theory of Constraints ( German  theory of constraints ) were examined. The bottleneck increases the throughput time , limits the throughput and thus represents a capacity limit for an overall system. Eliyahu M. Goldratt also defines this phenomenon in a similar way in his theory of limitations. If the demand situation or the manufactured product mix changes, the bottleneck can shift to a different part of the overall system.

Transport logistics

The starting point in transport logistics is the transport problem of perishable goods, where the transport time is the most important factor. If the transport times of a bipartite transport network are known and the transport can run strictly parallel, then the total time for the transport is equal to the longest time on all transport routes. A single connection determines the transport time and forms the bottleneck. The visible sign of a bottleneck is the traffic jam , which is difficult to take into account in logistics planning.

Information technology

In information technology , the communication path ( data bus ) between the processor (CPU) and the main memory is a major problem in computers . The data transfer can take many times longer than the processing of a command by the CPU, which then has to wait for the next transfer process to be completed . This bottleneck is often referred to as the Von Neumann bottleneck , named after the mathematician John von Neumann .

A particularly high level of performance is required for the backbone because otherwise it slows down the entire network as a central bottleneck or bottleneck. A bridge , in the computer network on the two network segments OSI layer of layer 2 links, a network can slow. Real peer-to-peer networks, on the other hand, have no central control and therefore no central bottleneck or bottleneck.

Business administration

In business administration, only a bottleneck, the smallest production (passage) cross-section, the narrowest (performance) cross-section, the bottleneck is usually spoken of. In the specialist literature, the term bottleneck stands for the occurrence of scarce capacities , especially in operational functions such as procurement (procurement bottleneck ), production ( production bottleneck ), financing (financing bottleneck ), organization , administration or sales . With just-in-time production, for example, the entire production process comes to a standstill when a material procurement bottleneck occurs. If a machine that can not be replaced immediately fails in the production process, production forms the bottleneck sector . In production planning, such a bottleneck should be localized within the framework of capacity scheduling by using the method of the critical path in network planning technology: a production process that represents such a bottleneck is in the critical path .

The total operational capacity is therefore determined by the minimum sector or the bottleneck sector. As a result, production factors whose capacity is greater than the minimum sector have a capacity overhang ( idle capacity ) with unavoidable idle costs .


In economics , the bottleneck is the branch of the economy whose capacity limits the production volume of other sectors. Until full employment is reached, demand represents the "economic bottleneck" ( demand gap ), that is, insufficient demand is the cause of underemployment ; once full employment has been reached, the offer becomes an “economic bottleneck”. It is the supply gap , which is just as much a bottleneck as the demand gap , the supply overhang and the demand overhang . A supply bottleneck can arise from a supply gap or excess demand .

The supply gap and excess demand are also to be understood as a bottleneck if the readiness to deliver is temporarily disturbed, as in the case of an energy crisis or a supply crisis for agricultural products . Here the state tries to intervene by guaranteeing the security of supply and to secure self-sufficiency through the highest possible degree of self-sufficiency .

Literature / web links

Individual evidence

  1. Jürgen Th Rembold, Stochastic Bottleneck Problems , 1978, p. 4
  2. Erich Gutenberg, Introduction to Business Administration , 1958, p. 48
  3. Peter von Polenz, German Language History from the Late Middle Ages to the Present , Volume III, 1999, p. 406
  4. Olin Roenpage / Christian Staudter / Renata Meran / Alexander John / Carmen Beernaert, Six Sigma + Lean Toolset , 2007, p. 141
  5. Martin Fiedler (Ed.), Lean Construction - The Management Handbook , 2018, p. 19
  6. ^ Wallace J. Hopp / Mark L. Spearman, Factory Physics. Foundations of Manufacturing Management , 2nd edition, McGraw-Hill, Boston 2001, ISBN 0-256-24795-1
  7. Eliyahu M. Goldratt, What Is This Thing Called Theory of Constraints and How Should It Be Implemented? North River, Croton-on-Hudson 1990, ISBN 0-88427-085-8
  8. ^ Tomas Gal (Ed.), Basics of Operations Research , 1989, p. 273
  9. Reinhard Richter / Peter Sander / Wolffried Stucky, The computer as a system: Organization, data, programs , 1997, p. 161
  10. Johannes Hennekeuser / Gerhard Peter, Computer Communication for Users , 1994, p. 85
  11. Johannes Hennekeuser / Gerhard Peter, Computer Communication for Users , 1994, p. 50
  12. ^ Westdeutscher Verlag (Ed.), Contributions to Business Research , Volumes 15-18, 1962, p. 74
  13. Volker Häfner (Ed.), Gabler Volkswirtschafts-Lexikon , 1983, p. 151
  14. ^ Andreas Gadatsch / Elmar Mayer, master course IT controlling , 2006, p. 330
  15. Volker Häfner (Ed.), Gabler Volkswirtschafts-Lexikon , 1983, p. 151
  16. Paul Engel Kamp / Friedrich L. Sell, Introduction to Economics , 2005, p 212