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Understanding organisational value
Understanding organisational value

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3.2 Creating new types of organisational value

The previous section highlighted the rise of new types of value creation. But how can these be applied to organisations? To an extent, this shift in values (and perceptions of value) echoes the previously acknowledged need to expand economic value to broader notions of organisational value. The overriding fixation with making profit was viewed as too narrow a focus for ensuring broader organisational success. Instead, as mentioned earlier in this course, organisational value concentrated on reorienting and transforming organisational needs for improving the overall value for a diverse range of stakeholders. Similarly, new types of technological and social value are attempting to expand organisational capabilities and processes in order to benefit consumers, workers, and citizens.

Organisations have always been more than just vehicles for creating economic value. They have always had to encompass the need to make profit with broader social and political expectations. Previously, this could have included balancing desires for industrial democracy by employees with the demands for employers to remain economically competitive. Likewise, businesses were forced to make products that simultaneously could be made quickly, and at reduced costs in labour and material, while meeting governmental regulations regarding health and safety. More recently, employees want their employment to provide them with not only professional success, but also personal wellbeing. The notions of ‘work-life balance’ and ‘wellbeing’ are now mainstream organisational values.

What makes this era so potentially different is that technologies and new social values are seeking to completely transform organisational processes and redefine how they envision value. Old notions driving organisational value – including efficiency, productivity, competition, and profit – are being augmented and even directly challenged by desires to design institutional processes and activities to enhance individual freedom, promote environmental sustainability, and contribute to human welfare overall.

The table below highlights how these new types of value are being translated into new types of organisational value.

Table 5 New types of organisational value
New Type of Value Description Translated into organisational value
Environmental Sustainability This value focuses on ensuring that all goods, services, processes, and activities do not negatively impact the natural environment, and can have a positive effect on its renewal. This shifts the emphasis from offsetting the environmental damage caused by an organisation (via charitable donations or internal processes) to the ways that sustainability must be a guiding principle resulting from all primary and secondary activities.
Social Inclusiveness This value highlights the need to ensure that all decision-making is free of social bias, and that different voices are heard and represented in organisational decision-making. This shifts the emphasis from creating a more diverse workforce to one in which a diverse and inclusive community of producers and users input into the goals, processes, and outputs of an organisation.
Personalisation This value prioritises the need to customise processes and services to meet the individual needs and desires of both producers and users. This shifts the emphasis from mass production to more personalised forms of working and consuming.
Collaboration This value stresses a culture of sharing knowledge and skills, and working together. This shifts the emphasis from competition to more collaborative models of working and consuming.
Community-Led This value concentrates on allowing producers and users to work together to shape the organisation and its delivery of goods and services. This shifts the emphasis from being market-driven and responsive to customer trends to allowing a community of producers and users to co-create and transform existing organisational processes, as well as its goods and services.
Open-Sourced This value involves making all information about the organisation freely available to other organisations and individuals, so that they can use it to help develop shared good practices. This shifts the emphasis from organisations safeguarding their information and practices from ‘the competition’ to gain a market advantage to instead finding ways to share information to gain a collaborative advantage.

Critically, though, not all organisations trying to create new types of value share these progressive values. Indeed, many are focused on using these new technologies to make more money while their overall social impact is of secondary importance at best. Nevertheless, they do represent a novel approach to starting, funding, and operating a business – one that is much less focused on selling discrete goods and services than it is on connecting people to share their own goods and services. Companies such as Uber and Airbnb signify not so much a departure from capitalism, but its technological updating.