|dc.description.abstract||In the twenty-first century ‘value’ is (re-)emerging as a vital and centrally important phenomenon. While value is, in many ways, a widely recognised and everyday term readily employed in a range of settings, equally, the nuanced myriad potential notions and conceptual understandings of ‘value’ are nevertheless perplexing to circumscribe yet often highly significant. Given the extensive span of, for example, populist, technical, academic, institutional and policy-making understandings of value, there exists, therefore, a rich, diverse and important domain for analysis.
Academically, the notion of value has a long pedigree. However, in the contemporary era, business, as in value creation for the business, or value to the business, often aligned with particular subject areas such as Marketing and affiliated notions of, for example, service-dominant logic (SDL) have been predominant concerns in relation to the concept of value. This is perhaps to be expected to in many ways constitutes a natural line of enquiry. At one level, value may be viewed as an inert identifier or simply a label, for, for example, the price attributed or assigned to a given product or service. Here, there is a risk that value becomes equated with limited understandings and historic notions of the differential between labour cost and profit (following, for instance, classical economic analyses of the like of Marx, Smith and Ricardo).
In an alternative casting, it is possible useful to consider value as being aligned with a process, or processes (an idea picked up in SDL of course), and equally with the engendering or possessing particular mindsets. Herein, value takes on verbal rather than nominal (i.e. noun-like) significance wherein value concerns adding, evolving, becoming, being, living, experiencing, developing, revealing, facilitating, engendering and indeed creating value. As such the process of value development becomes as much a creative and developmental process as an economic one. It is replete with subjectivities and perceptions, which imbue the communities of organizations from individual through groups and teams to the overall entity per se.
Moreover, value can be seen as operating at all levels and at all places in organizations and organizational life. An important distinction, often made in extant literature is the way in which value is viewed by top management tiers and boards in contrast to how value is perceived and engaged with at other points in the organization. Essentially, a key signal here is the degree to which any particular individual, group or agent is involved actively in process of value-creation/creating value. Attempts to encapsulate such variety and richness of approaches and perceptions are often reflected in the efforts of pan-institutional initiatives and governmental policy makers (see by way of illustration the BS 76000 British Standards Institute: Human Resource: Valuing People – Management System – Requirements and Guidance (2015)). In summary, there is a need therefore to exert or progress towards greater understanding and consensus in relation to value definitions globally (inside and outside the domain of business). This embraces ongoing evaluation of the question of whether value is inherent or the result of processes or both, because then, commensurately, effort has to be assigned to each of these questions. If definitions are to elude the field then we must at the very least explore the boundaries of what value may mean.
Value exists in many guises and dimensions. The special issue is of course concerned with the idea of value and its creation; however, equally, it signals that it is important to remain mindful of the risks of both conscious and non-conscious value destruction. The denigration and damage to value by individuals and organizations is a pervasive and perpetual risk and this critical dimension of value is considered at various points through the papers in the special issue. Furthermore, value can also be understood in its plural form as ‘values’. Through this lens, we see the emergence of dimensions which present a more social, ethical, qualitative and indeed even moralistic and individually subjective nature. Through such a gaze (Urry and Larsen, 2011) on ‘values’ there is a deliberate move away from an approach which concentrates on the physical and economic attributes of value towards one which could consider the belief systems, ideals and aspirations which may underpin and drive conceptualisations and operationalization of value. Thus, crucially, value as a concept and operationalized lived experience provides a bridge between the oft-cited divide between practitioner and academic communities. In part, this arises because value offers common and shared meanings in everyday life. However, deeper consideration and exploration of value, and moving beyond prima facie understandings, provides a basis of a dialogue on value creation which is of potentially high significance for issues of effectiveness and performance in complex and ambiguity-filled environments of contemporary organizational life and settings. By way of example, diversity on senior management groups and boards surfaces as a potentially key issue in being prepared and responding to these challenges (Grosvold, Brammer and Rayton (2007)).
It is important to make a note on the planned nature, intent and selection of the papers in the special issue. Many of the papers are expressly short and the number of papers is deliberately large. This is intentional. While, in some regards ‘value’ is a longstanding and widely debated concept, in many other ways, it is still surprisingly under-appreciated, and perhaps more importantly, not engaged with and implemented sufficiently extensively in organizational and operational settings. Therefore, the present collection aims to offer a montage and series of cameos which will create a platform from which to reassess, collate and redirect the debate and research on value and value creation. The special issue also draws on an array authors who are senior academics, practitioners, managers, consultant and policy-makers in an attempt to underline and illustrate the replete nature of value.||en