Sunday, May 15, 2011

Value as a resolution of forces

Value can be considered the process and outcome of three value concepts (forces), resolving as action. Dynamic tension between and within the concepts drives the process. The currency of the process is emotion and the outcome emotion and action.

Metaphors. I use three metaphors: (1) the infinity symbols, (2) the rose, and (3) the rose window. I use the infinity symbol to represent the dynamic tension within a value concept with the consumer at the centre, the subject of the tension.

The infinity symbol represents dynamic tension between aspects of a value concept focussed on a consumer.

I use the rose as a second metaphor to indicate the multiple forces affecting value. The multiple forces I visualise as multiple overlapping infinity signs (slightly turned), forming an eight petalled rose. I therefore use a rose window (though a flower could be used) to visualise multiple forces acting on the consumer at the centre (the stamen) of the rose. I use four colours to distinguish the forces: red (action), blue (value meanings), green (value practices), and yellow (value conversations). As an aside, the flower metaphor contrasts the petals and the stamen. The petals collect energy (information and emotion) to channel to the consumer (the stamen and the stem).

The three value concepts in the rose are: (1) the value conversation, (2) the value practices and (3) the value meanings.

Dynamic Tension
The value conversation reflects tension between sources of information; telco or social information, external (power) and internal (beauty) information.

Value practices reflect tension in accepting new value information for consideration. Value practices gather or reject new value information in a process of filtering.

Value meanings reflect tension in the importance, weight or value consumers give collected value information. Value Meanings reflect tension in what consumers value.

These three sets of tension are resolved as action. But action is itself a tension between waiting (inaction) and action.

Thus value is four forces, powered by the dynamic tension (emotion), resolved as action.

However, inherent or within this model are two further, if not forces then dimensions. Firstly, value(ing) occurs in relation to a value target of which we have many. Rokeach (1973) for instance says consumers have dozens of values (value meanings), but thousands of attitudes (value targets). Attention is a tension between competing value targets. Secondly, the whole value process also takes place through time. It is currently unclear (at least to me from my data) to what extent value (or attitude) can change spontaneously without new value information. The fading of grief ("time heals all wounds") is one colloquial expression of spontaneous change in value (attitude) over time at consumer level. Over a broader time scale, new value meanings emerge. Examples are equal rights (1960s), and more recently concern about global warming.

I visualise all six forces (calling time and value target forces for ease) as the rose window moving through space and time to a value target.

Conclusion. Thus I see value as the resolution of forces on the consumer, driven by dynamic (emotional) tension, expressed and resolved as action (buying, waiting; even recommending), as consumers navigate their contextual world.

Contrasting Figure 8 from my thesis (below) with the rose window model shows strong similarity. The value conversations are split between internal and external, while the telco and social conversation are merged. Figure 8 shows a strong cyclical nature to show the dynamics, while the rose window model emphasises the centrality of the consumer, with multiple forces acting upon them. Both models have emotion (attitude) as an important central aspect of value.

Figure 8:A value theory of innovation. An emotional theory of value. Value is at the core of innovation. Emotion is at the core of value.p.156

Surprising absences. Absent from this model (of value), and missing from the data are two things. Firstly, consumers are not goal-driven. Secondly, consumers do not talk about decisions in my data. Action arises more spontaneously from accumulated emotional tension.

As an observation, since value is emotional, the value process is significantly individual. Though Collins (1999) cites shared emotion as an important driver and sustainer of group action. For instance, church groups and separated work groups use ritual to bind and motivate group members separated by distance and time. Families and partners are also likely affected by such rituals. Workgroups, religious groups, families and partners are likely to have different levels of goal importance, shared and communicated. Workgroups and churches will have stronger shared goals which bind their groups and give them value. Families and partners have value without goals.

For completeness, the value meanings as a rose window are shown below.

Rokeach, M. (1973). The Nature of Human Values. Free Press: New York.
Collins, R. (1999). The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change. Belknap Press: Cambridge, MA.


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