Cost Center


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.


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.

  1. Reorganization

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  2. Profit Center

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  3. Marketing

    The activities of a company associated with buying and selling ...
  4. Human Resources (HR)

    The company department charged with finding, screening, recruiting ...
  5. Research And Development - R&D

    Investigative activities that a business chooses to conduct with ...
  6. Downsize

    Reducing the size of a company by eliminating workers and/or ...
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  1. Do dividends affect working capital?

    Regardless of whether cash dividends are paid or accrued, a company's working capital is reduced. When cash dividends are ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Do prepayments provide working capital?

    Prepayments, or prepaid expenses, are typically included in the current assets on a company's balance sheet, as they represent ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Does working capital include inventory?

    A company's working capital includes inventory, and increases in inventory make working capital increase. Working capital ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Does working capital include salaries?

    A company accrues unpaid salaries on its balance sheet as part of accounts payable, which is a current liability account, ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is a profit and loss (P&L) statement and why do companies publish them?

    A profit and loss (P&L) statement, or balance sheet, is essentially a snapshot of a company's financial activity for ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How do dividends affect the balance sheet?

    Dividends paid in cash affect a company's balance sheet by decreasing the company's cash account on the asset side and decreasing ... Read Full Answer >>

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