Co-creating Value in Complex Contexts

Dec 17, 2013, 10:07 ET from American Marketing Association

CHICAGO, Dec. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The increasing complexity and connectedness of global markets requires managers to embrace a revised understanding of the role of the firm, based on a more dynamic perspective of markets. Today, firms must focus on the effective cocreation of value, rather than the efficient production and distribution of goods. Melissa Akaka, Stephen Vargo and Robert Lusch demonstrate the key is for executives to explore the complexity of local, national and global contexts to better understand the social and economic forces that guide the cocreation of value across countries and cultures.


The authors apply an evolving, service-dominant logic, and its ecosystems view, as an alternative framework for conceptualizing the complexity of market-related contexts and for studying how value is jointly created (cocreated) in dynamic social and economic systems. The investigation of a service-ecosystems approach to international marketing appears in the December 2013 issue of the American Marketing Association's Journal of International Marketing. This research suggests that the complexity of international and global contexts is based on the embeddeness of social networks and the multiplicity of institutions (social structures) within ecosystems of service exchange.

The proposed framework incorporates varying (micro, meso and macro) levels of interaction. This becomes central to seeing value as influenced by the intersection of institutions and the enactment of routine practices. Akaka, Vargo and Lusch argue that this view of context is useful for studying dynamic markets because it centers on the "phenomenological and heterogeneous nature of value by considering the multiple participants, perceptions, and practices that influence the creation of value." For managers, this approach "emphasizes the way conflicts can arise in multi-level contexts as firms enter foreign institutional environments and struggle to gain legitimacy, often through adaptation of products or messages, within a particular national market."

Unfortunately, international marketing has been operating within the confines of an old industrial manufacturing logic, which identifies firms as creators and customers as destroyers of value. This research provides an emerging and contemporary view that treats value as something that is cocreated among multiple stakeholders in complex social and economic contexts. It has important implications for unlocking an understanding of how firms can better contribute to value creation, and hence better obtain strategic advantage, in increasingly dynamic markets.

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