*noun*; term coined by Adam Smith (1723-1790) to refer to things used to produce other things. Usually people refer to four factors of production:
1.labor (not the same thing as workers); a worker can work more or less hours per week, and can exchange her labor for payment
2. capital; includes tools, machinery, plants and fixtures, seed corn, etc. Adam Smith distinguished between inventories, which he called circulating capital, and tools, which he called fixed capital;
3. land; understood as a specific area on the earth's surface, but sometimes incorporates the natural productivity or mineral resources as well;
4. entrepreneurship; sometimes lumped with capital. Includes the combination of skills required to start a business.
Different economic systems vary in their view of who should own the factors of production. In capitalism, this would be private individuals; in communism, it would be a collective. In the Marxist transition to communism, it would be the state.
by Abu Yahya March 03, 2009

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