Conference article

Quality in the Value-Creating Network Society

Evert Gummesson
Stockholm University School of Business, Sweden

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Published in: 10th QMOD Conference. Quality Management and Organiqatinal Development. Our Dreams of Excellence; 18-20 June; 2007 in Helsingborg; Sweden

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 26:1, p.

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Published: 2008-02-15


ISSN: 1650-3686 (print), 1650-3740 (online)


This paper addresses the issue of quality emerging not just from one source; the supplier; but from a network of sources; among them the customers. Quality and customer satisfaction are brought together into the concept of value. According to the service-dominant logic (Vargo and Lusch 2004; Lusch and Vargo 2006; Grönroos 2007; Gummesson 2007a) suppliers and customers are co-creators of service or value. Instead of producing goods or services a company creates a value proposition; which is increasingly dependent on input from customers. Customers create the value actualization; sometimes in contact with suppliers but often on their own and in individual ways. The three concepts of quality; customer satisfaction and value may have a core that differentiates them; but their boundaries are blurred and partly overlapping. Reality is full of fuzzy phenomena and when efforts to make objective; complete and rigorous definitions fail; this should not lead to frustration or the collection of more data and the design of more elaborate equations. Instead; it should lead to a change of mindset. If real world phenomena are fuzzy; science had better listen and learn how to treat them as such. Social sciences; including management and economics; have a problem with that. The idea that a phenomenon; and consequently its representation in an abstract construct; is clearly delimited and definable in a “box” format; is a subjective assumption that leads to inefficiency and frustration. In this paper; although its size does not allow us to get very deep; reality is accepted for what it is; despite the inconvenience this may cause mainstream academic researchers and those practitioners who consider themselves no-nonsense; hard-nosed businessmen. I don’t have the answers; but we have to try the roads less traveled by; that will make all the difference (to paraphrase the great poet Robert Frost). We need reflective academics as well as reflective practitioners.


Quality; Value; Complexity; Networks; Many-to-many


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