Business entity

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Economically relevant business entities

Business entity or business entity ( english economic unit ) is in the economics an economically independent decision-makers, such as a household or a business .


The economic units include private households , companies and the state with all the public budgets assigned to it ( public sector including social insurance ). Sometimes private non-profit organizations (such as clubs , churches , trade unions or associations ) and foreign countries (such as tourists ) are added as additional economic units . Each group of the same business units has peculiarities that distinguish them from the other groups of business units. This concerns their economic purpose , their asset and capital structure , their main type of income and their goals . Business entities are organized in such a way that, based on their goals, they are able to participate in the market . They are actors who interact as decision-makers (“subjects”) in the markets and who each exhibit a characteristic market behavior within their group . Economic subjects with similar behavior are grouped into economic sectors .


In his Tableau économique , created in 1758, the physiocrat François Quesnay knew three economic units, namely owners , entrepreneurs and workers , which he classified as either the “productive class” (entrepreneurs and workers in agriculture ) or the “sterile class” (entrepreneurs and workers in trade and Manufactory ). In his book Theory of Moral Sentiments described by Adam Smith in 1759 psychological aspects of behavior ( English conduct ) of economic agents. At least since his book The Prosperity of Nations (March 1776), it has been assumed that private economic agents pursue their own individual benefit . Smith recognized the competition between the economic subjects participating in the market as the decisive mechanism of self-regulation.

The economy is based Werner Sombart According to the "appropriate action" of economic agents. In 1902, he understood these economic subjects as "personalities whose will determines the economic activity of their own person or of a stranger, with whom, in the picture, the focus of economic life lies". In 1927 he made a distinction between consumption and production economy subjects , counted the capitalists as owners of the means of production to the economic subjects and understood the wage workers as economic objects. According to Heinrich von Stackelberg , the private household is an "economic unit whose purposes require the use of economic goods, but do not themselves have the production of economic goods as their content". In 1962 Erich Kosiol saw the economic unit as an “action structure to achieve (economic, d. Author) goals through acts of will”. For Erwin Grochla , a meaningful definition of the economic unit in 1964 still seemed to be an unsolved problem in economics.


Households have a mainly the living purpose and financial management assets serving structure, its purpose is in the range of work , their goal is the maximization . You achieve earned income , income from equity investment , entrepreneurship or transfers . The labor supply is determined by the preferences of private households, which have certain combinations of real income and leisure time to choose from.

Companies have a more or less high plant intensity in order to be able to produce goods and services ; their main type of income is the profit , its operating purpose is to combine the factors of production for the purpose of production and distribution and its corporate objective is to maximize profits . They obtain production factors in order to convert them into consumer or capital goods and services in the production process . With production factors that can be divided at will and a production function with decreasing marginal productivity, companies hire additional staff until marginal productivity equals real wages . The state (and in particular public administration and public companies ) serve public purposes , perform public tasks and pursue the goal of the principle of cost recovery .

Each business unit can be a balance create, in which on the assets side of the non-financial assets (residential: residential property, household goods; business: commercial real estate, inventory , government: public assets ) and the claims ( cash on hand , bank deposits , securities , foreign exchange ) and on the liabilities side of the Liabilities (such as government debt ) and net worth or equity .

Interaction of business entities

Economic activity in an economy takes place through the economic units. In order to realize the economic principle , they have to draw up an economic plan. In doing so, they are forced to coordinate their business plan with the plans of other business units as well as possible. In a market economy they decide decentrally based on their economic plan; their decisions are coordinated through markets.

Today the private household is an economic unit made up of one or more natural persons who draw up private financial planning , demand consumer goods / services through consumption decisions, provide labor and produce only for their own consumption ( housework , gardening , education ). Günter Wöhe defines the company as a “well-organized economic unit in which production factors are combined in order to manufacture and sell goods and services”; they make production decisions.

The state and its households are an economic unit that mainly produces public goods and makes them available to the public . The decision-maker in the state is the body ( parliament , cabinet , finance minister , treasurer ) that coordinates the funds for the various collective purposes. The state is an economic entity only as the manager of funds for collective purposes.

The possibility or the necessity of acquiring or delivering services to other business entities requires a division of labor . As a result, the business units are linked by two principles:

  • Services against payment : the economic entities agree what each gives and what the other receives in return ("paid management"),
  • Unilateral service and payment processes : the service transfer to others is separated from income from remuneration and is replaced by tax revenues (“state economy”).

Finally, the economic sectors form the simplest structure of national accounts .

Individual evidence

  1. Economic subject in Gabler's economic dictionary .
  2. ^ Alfred Endres / Jörn Martiensen: Umweltökonomik , 2007, p. 41.
  3. Klaus Schrüfer: Allgemeine Volkswirtschaftslehre , 2010, p. 24.
  4. ^ Adam Smith : The Theory of Moral Sentiments , 1759 III, pp. 239 ff.
  5. ^ Adam Smith: An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations , 1776, pp. 825 ff.
  6. Werner Sombart : Modern Capitalism , Volume 1, 1902, p. 4.
  7. Werner Sombart; Economic life in the age of high capitalism , 1927, p. 230.
  8. ^ Heinrich von Stackelberg : Fundamentals of theoretical economics , 1951, p. 107.
  9. Erich Kosiol : Organization of the company , 1962, p. 22.
  10. ^ Erwin Grochla : Entrepreneurship and Operation , in: Handbuch der Sozialwissenschaften , Volume 10, 1964, p. 583.
  11. Dieter Pickelmann / Volker H. Peemöller / Carl Walter Meyer: Exchange rate changes, import price fluctuations and employment , 1981, p. 9 f.
  12. Holger Lang: Mon (k) ey-Business , 2016, p. 310.
  13. Klaus Schrüfer: Allgemeine Volkswirtschaftslehre , 2010, p. 36.
  14. Walter Große : Allgemeine Versicherungslehre , 1991, p. 20.
  15. ^ Alfred Endres / Jörn Martiensen: Umweltökonomik , 2007, p. 41.
  16. Günter Wöhe : Introduction to General Business Administration , 2003, p. 27.
  17. Walter Große: Allgemeine Versicherungslehre , 1991, p. 14.
  18. ^ Matthias Lehmann: Marktorientierte Betriebswirtschaftslehre , 1998, p. 32.