The Mystery of Operating Leverage

25 Pages Posted: 12 May 2020 Last revised: 6 Dec 2020

See all articles by Tadeusz Dudycz

Tadeusz Dudycz

Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Management

Date Written: April 17, 2020


Operating leverage is one of the more popular parameters used in management practice and scientific research. However, its definition and measurement method are not coherent and are presented imprecisely in both textbooks and scientific publications. This results in a great deal of freedom among authors in the selection of measures for estimating operating leverage and the interpretation of the results, which has a negative impact on functionality for synthesis and theory building. Although some authors made such reservations clear as early as the 1980s, the situation has not changed. The article critically analyses the operational leverage measures used in recent publications and proposes to organize and refine the concept of operational leverage as leverage to increase value added and profit at a given output level using a trade-off mechanism between variable and fixed costs. The measure of this leverage is the share of fixed costs in total costs measured at the break-even point.

Keywords: Operating leverage, DOL, Financial leverage, DFL, Trade-off, Operating risk, Fixed costs, Cost structure

JEL Classification: G31, G32, M21, M41

Suggested Citation

Dudycz, Tadeusz, The Mystery of Operating Leverage (April 17, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Tadeusz Dudycz (Contact Author)

Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Management ( email )

ul. Smoluchowskiego 25
Wroclaw, 50-372

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