Cost Center

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DEFINITION of 'Cost Center'

A department within an organization that does not directly add to profit, but which still costs an organization money to operate. Cost centers only contribute to a company's profitability indirectly, unlike a profit center which contributes to profitability directly through its actions. This type of department is likely to be one of the first targets for downsizing because, on the surface, it has a negative impact on profits.

BREAKING DOWN 'Cost Center'

Cost centers and profit centers are typically treated differently within an organization. Because a cost center doesn't produce a profit directly from its activities, managers of cost centers are responsible for keeping their costs in line or below budget. Examples of cost centers include marketing, human resources and research and development.

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