مزیت رقابتی و ارزش شبکه پیکربندی: تصمیم گیری در یک شرکت بیمه عمر سوئد
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Long Range Planning, Volume 39, Issue 2, April 2006, Pages 109–131
Executives in industries that facilitate transactions within a network of customers, such as financial services and telecommunications, currently face tough challenges. The factors determining success in their industries are changing rapidly and the boundaries of many of their markets are realigning. General analytical tools exist to support decision-making on these issues, but many of these tools have been devised primarily with manufacturing industries in mind. These tools may therefore require modifications in order to accommodate the underlying value creation logic of transaction services, the so called network-industries. We present a case study of a project in a Scandinavian life insurance company where the value network, an alternate value configuration analysis tool to the established value chain, was used to represent the company's activities and identify and evaluate the strategic options facing the company. The value network tool, which closely matched the executives' view of their industry and firm, proved useful in making a significant decision for the company. In particular, value network analysis channelled attention to the composition of the customer set and the mechanisms affecting the composition as being at the heart of the company's competitive position. Transaction service firms link their customers for a wide variety of purposes, such as risk sharing, financial transactions or communication. The composition and the size of the customer set are therefore important drivers of the value of service to individual customers of such firms. The experience of this case study merits further investigation of the use of different types of activity configurations depending on a given industry's underlying value creation logic. It provides insights into the types of situations in which value configuration analysis is most helpful, and gives guidance on how to identify issues for which the value network is the more powerful tool to support decision-making.
Since its introduction by Michael Porter in his book ‘Competitive Advantage’ (1985), the value chain has become the most widely used tool for representing and analyzing how companies create value.1 The choices that a firm makes concerning its activity configuration, together with the resources that these activities leverage, are central elements of a company's business model.2 The value chain describes the classic manufacturing firm that creates value for its customers by transforming inputs into products where the price the customer is willing to pay (and thus their value received) is higher than the per unit cost of performing the activities. Porter distinguishes between primary activities, i.e. the physical creation of a product as well as its sale, transfer to the customer, and after-sale assistance, and support activities, i.e. the provision of purchased inputs, technology, and human resources to support primary activities as well as other firm-wide functions. But while the value chain has been applied very successfully in manufacturing industries, researchers and practitioners have questioned its appropriateness for understanding firms with different underlying value creation logics.3 The value network models transaction services where firms act as intermediaries creating value by providing services that support exchanges within a network … of people, organizations or locations. This article discusses the use of the value network configuration, an alternative to the value chain introduced by Fjeldstad and Stabell in response to such concerns about the applicability of the value chain to transaction service structures. The value network configuration has previously been used in the contexts of the telecommunications services industry, e-business, business schools, and in this issue supply management.4 The value chain and the value network representations capture different ways in which firm's activities interact to create value, depending on the underlying value creation logic and economics of enterprises and their associated industries. The value network models transaction services (such as insurance and telecommunications) where firms create value by providing services that support exchange within a network of nodes, which can be people, organizations or physical locations. Insurance companies allow their customers to share risks, banks intermediate payment, liquidity and risks between individuals as well as companies, telecommunication firms facilitate communication between individuals, and transportation firms move physical objects between locations. These firms are not the networks themselves; they are the intermediaries providing the networking services. The introduction of multiple value configurations, such as the value chain and the value network, reflect the view that firms differ systematically in the way that activities relate to each other according to their underlying value creation logic, that these differences can be captured by different value configurations, and that choice of value creation has implications for the development of business strategy. We investigate these claims in a case study of how the senior executives of a Swedish group insurance company and their consultants used the value network configuration to analyze the company's situation and develop strategic options for its future.5 Their case enables us to shed light on the following two research questions: ▪ When are value configurations relevant and effective analytical tools in companies' decision making processes? ▪ How does the choice of the value network instead of the value chain as a conceptual tool affect the analysis? With respect to the first question, two main observations stand out. First, value configurations are powerful tools for analyzing companies' strategic positioning, although they are of relatively less importance when studying operational efficiency. Operational efficiency relates to the cost of performing particular activities and can be analyzed using a broad set of benchmarking tools where the organization of activities in value configurations is of little consequence. Strategic positioning depends on how the whole system of activities, i.e. the value configuration, contributes to customer value and to the firm's cost of providing that value to the chosen market segment.6 Porter highlighted this link between value configuration and competitive advantages, but many subsequent applications have overlooked it. Second, the actual effectiveness of an analytical tool depends on whether or not it is considered valid by the decision makers and corresponds to their intuitive view of the business. There is little systematic knowledge about how consultants and managers actually use the strategy textbook tools,7 and even less about how they are adapted to settings different from those in which the tools have been devised. We address these issues of value configuration validity and relevance in the specific context of our case study. the value network focuses attention on the size and composition of the customer set . . [and on] identifying, attracting and retaining customers whose membership has a positive value for other clients The second question, the consequences of using the value network instead of the value chain configuration as an analytical tool, reveals two additional main observations, both of which emphasize that companies which use a value configuration that is truly in line with the underlying characteristics of their industry benefit because they can set strategies based on a more appropriate understanding of their value creation dynamics. First, the value network highlights a set of issues that are different from those highlighted by the value chain. In particular, it focuses attention on the properties of the customer set (i.e. its size and composition), as a central element of the choice as to whether to be a member.8 This increases the importance of activities concerned with identifying, attracting and retaining customers whose membership has a positive value for other existing or potential clients. Trying to use a value chain-activity-system to model a company that creates value through a value-network-logic will cause a high likelihood of missing or misjudging the importance of this key element of its value creation process. Second, using the value network rather than the value chain as an analysis tool will also frame the issues raised in a different manner, and thus lead to different answers. The best example is the value of a customer to the company. In a value chain analysis the customer value is given simply by the discounted cash flow of future revenues from sales to the customer, minus direct costs. In a value network, the customer value includes the additional worth of the impact that the customer has on the attractiveness of the customer pool to other existing or future customers. The remainder of the article is organized in three parts: First, we discuss value network analysis, contrasting it to value chain analysis. Second, we present the case study, first describing the actual analysis conducted by the company's executives and consultants, and then adding an ex-post analysis of the consequences as far as generating strategic options for the company that might have been expected had the alternative value chain configuration been applied. Third, we discuss the key insights for company executives and researchers triggered by this case.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
A single case study, as we discuss in the Appendix, can identify new issues and generate ideas, but it can not give definitive answers. The case of Förenade Liv and the use of the value network configuration in developing strategic options for the company, in our view, motivate both broader research and practical development to make a set of different value configurations available to business executives. The use of the value network instead of the value chain in this case study led to different insights because of one fundamental difference between these two value configurations. Value chains sell something that they produce and own, i.e. a product or a service, while value networks sell something that they organize but don't technically own, i.e. access to a network of other customers. This leads to very different types of value creation economics. For a value chain, product value is independent of the number of customers, although cost levels might be affected by economies of scale. For a value network, service value depends on the specific and overall number of other customers in the network. This point was made in Fjeldstad and Stabell's article which initially developed the value network as an analytical tool: Mediation services offered by value networks represent the extreme case [of network externalities] because the dependency among customers is the main product delivered. Stated differently, in value networks, the other customers are the key part of the product. The services of a value network mainly deliver the customers’ opportunities to exercise those dependencies. Size and composition of the customer base are therefore the critical drivers of value in the value network. (p 431) Viewing insurance companies through this lens, portrays them as network (pool) organizers that reduce risks by combining individual risk profiles rather than as businesses that get paid by their customers for taking risks. The value chain has shown the substantial benefits that activity-oriented tools can provide. We are convinced that alternative value configurations that correspond better to the underlying network logic of the industries that have gained substantial ground in the economy in recent years can have significant value for companies facing strategic challenges in those dramatically changing markets. Such challenges often call for much more than bringing a new product to market or upgrading a specific function or skill. They demand the ability to develop new business models based on a fresh analysis of underlying value creation logic(s). The importance of re-evaluating existing tools in any field undergoing change, be it research, engineering or strategic management, is well captured by the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow: ‘I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail’. Executives in such situations face the dual challenge of having tools appropriate for managing their current business and obtaining tool-kits that allow them to take advantage of exciting new opportunities or face up to dire threats from competitors with different value creation logics. Those who can broaden their tool kit, and can understand which tools to use for which situations, have much to gain.