broker

Introduction

broker, one who acts as an intermediary in a sale or other business transaction between two parties. Such a person conducts individual transactions only, is given no general authority by the employers, discloses the names of the principals in the transaction to each other, and leaves to them the conclusion of the deal. The broker neither possesses the goods sold nor receives the goods procured; brokers take no market risks and transfer no title to goods or to anything else. A broker earns a commission, or brokerage, when the contract of sale has been made, regardless of whether the contract is satisfactorily executed. The broker is paid by the party that started the negotiation. In practice, merchants and other salespeople act as brokers at times.

Brokers are most useful in establishing trade connections in those large industries where a great many relatively small producers (e.g., farmers) compete for a wide market. They operate in strategic cities and keep in active touch with the trade needs of their localities and with one another. They are important in determining prices, routing goods, and guiding production, and in those functions play a part similar to that of the highly organized exchanges. Brokers also negotiate trades in property not directly affecting production; examples are stockbrokers and real estate brokers.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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