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Difference btw capacity and capability.

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New answer on Sep 09, 2020
5 Answers
2.4 k Views
Anonymous A asked on May 05, 2019

Could please someone explain the two concepts? Thanks!

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Sidi
Expert
updated an answer on May 06, 2019
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

A simple and crystal clear way to distinguish:

  • Capability determines WHETHER a person or organization can offer a certain product or service.
  • Capacity determines HOW MUCH of this service or product can be offered within a defined time frame

Hence, capability ensures that you can get going, and capacity ensures that you can meet the demand that you face.

Cheers, Sidi

(edited)

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Vlad
Expert
replied on May 05, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Capability is a broad definition that refers to the differentiators the company can have:

  • Cheap suppliers
  • Intellectual property
  • Unique contracts with distributors
  • Economies of scale
  • Talent
  • Etc

Capacity usually refers to how much the company can produce. If the company has more capacity than anyone else on the market it's also a unique capability

Best

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Daniel replied on May 05, 2019

Hi,

first, I wouldn't necessarily speak of concepts when relating to these words. These are just two words.

Capability means the ability to do something, for instance, "does company A have the capability to produce product B?" is synonymous with "does company A have the ability to produce product B?" In other words, "CAN company A produce product A?"

In contrast, capacity tells you about the maximum amount/extent something can do, contain, produce, etc., something. For instance, machine A can have a capacity of 2000 parts/min. So the outcome of having this machine producing parts is 2000 parts/min.

I hope this helps.

Regards,

Daniel

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Anonymous replied on Sep 09, 2020

Hi A,

Capacity is actually a measure of your potential, while capability can be considered its limitation.

Your capability defines your capacity, not vice versa.

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Guennael
Expert
replied on May 06, 2019
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

Capability: I am even able to do it (knowledge)

Capacity: Do I have bandwith

These two are often used interchangeably.

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