With his co-authors, the ESCP Europe Professor enabled a shift in mindsets by introducing the overlooked yet essential notion of multiplex value cocreation.
In the article they wrote for the Journal of Business Research, ESCP Europe Associate Professor of Marketing Kamran Razmdoost, Cranfield University’s Leila Alinaghian and University College London’s Hedley J. Smyth looked into the processes and mechanisms actors deliberately put in place to manage value cocreation’s temporal nature, which they labelled multiplex value cocreation. “Value and value creation play a crucial role in determining the wellbeing of any social entity, be they individuals or businesses,” claims Kamran Razmdoost, whose research is focused on value cocreation, service ecosystem transformation and network resources.
The authors explain that the cocreation paradigm specifically places significant emphasis on the contributions of (all) different actors involved in the creation of value in service exchanges. C. K. Prahalad and Venkat Ramaswamy popularized this concept in their 2000 Harvard Business Review article and subsequent book, offering examples including Napster and Netflix showing that customers would no longer be satisfied with making yes or no decisions on what a company offers.
The latest conceptualization of value cocreation associates the phenomenon with service ecosystems, and empirical studies have identified a set of resource integration processes and interaction mechanisms that contribute to the well-being of service ecosystem actors. “For instance, in a healthcare context, some researchers have shown that resource integration processes such as engagement in diet control and physical exercise enhance the health conditions of customers, the authors write.”
Introducing the notion of multiplex value cocreation
In this paradigm, the authors highlight the fact that we engage in a set of actions to manage the interdependencies among our past, present and future experiences. “We should look at value cocreation over time rather than what we see at present,” adds Kamran Razmdoost. The authors explain that actors' engagement in these resource-integrating processes and interaction mechanisms, whether intentional, unintentional, conscious or unconscious, are influenced by the outcomes (i.e., resources, institutions, and experiences) created in the past and may impact, and thus be influenced by, the outcomes created in an imaginary future. “For instance, two drivers with the same make-and-model car on the same road may drive differently due to their past driving experiences and training.”
Most often, the temporality of value cocreation is managed by resources and institutions that emerge over time as the constituents of value cocreation like competencies, social norms and symbols (see curved arrows in Fig. 1). “In the aforementioned example, the drivers' previous driving experiences are manifested through resources such as their knowledge of the road or driving competency in their present driving experience.”
However, there are also instances where service ecosystem actors are required to deliberately put in place processes and mechanisms to manage the temporality of value cocreation. “In the driving example, driver-licensing agencies set regulations and processes to ensure that the drivers are familiar with driving regulations (i.e., they have had formal training in the past) before allowing them to drive (in the present). At the same time, to be eligible to drive, the drivers engage in the process of obtaining a driver's license by learning the traffic regulations and driving practices and taking the driving test.”
Investigating the notion of multiplex value cocreation
But as Kamran Razmdoost observes, the processes and mechanisms through which the interdependencies between/among past, present, and future value cocreation are deliberately managed - multiplex value cocreation - had not been examined so far. This is why with Leila Alinaghian and Hedley J. Smyth, he aimed to unravel the “black box” of multiplex value cocreation by carrying out a multiple case study comprising four firms engaged in the definition, design, and delivery of mega-infrastructure projects.
“In particular, multiplex value cocreation appears where the temporal nature of value cocreation is a potential source of conflict among actors (e.g., failing to learn the rules and regulations of driving [in the past] would cause unsafe conditions for others [in the present]). While playing an integral role in value cocreation, multiplex value cocreation has largely been overlooked in the literature.”
By teasing out and distinguishing the processes and mechanisms through which actors manage the interrelationship between past, present, and future value cocreation (i.e., multiplex value cocreation, see dotted arrows in Fig. 1) from those of core value cocreation activities (see horizontal solid arrows in Fig. 1), their study seeks to explain the nuances of the recent thinking with regard to the temporal nature of value cocreation in unique service exchanges as opposed to routine service exchanges, in which they are less evident. “For instance, it may be difficult to uncover the processes and mechanisms that led to the establishment of driver-licensing agencies in the example above,” they point out.
Two resource integration processes at work
Their findings uncovered how actors manage the temporal nature of value cocreation through the two resource integration processes of institutional work and resource reconfiguration that are reciprocally interrelated, driven by motives and conflicts, and facilitated by interaction mechanisms they identified. They also suggest that multiplex value cocreation also exists in routine service exchanges.
“Our study, in general, contributes to the existing literature highlighting the temporal nature of value cocreation by explaining how the interdependencies of value cocreation in the past, present, and future are managed, they conclude. By distinguishing between multiplex and core value cocreation processes and mechanisms, we managed to shed light on the presence of a number of the core components of value cocreation, including institutional work, resource reconfiguration, interaction mechanisms, conflicts, and motives.”