Resources-in-context – the framing approach

Academic research on resources has long traditions. One of the earliest works on the subject is Malthus’ (1798) analysis of world resources. For him ‘resources’ referred to natural resources that were static and to be captured for an advantage. These kinds of resources were considered scarce and with the increasing population growth estimated to come to an end fairly quickly. However, against all the gloomy predictions the world has not run out of resources. On the contrary, there is more wealth and resources available now than ever before despite of the increasing size of the human population (Ridley 2010).

Consequently, resources have come to be viewed very differently in academic research. They are not only considered as static and fixed ‘stuff’, but also as intangible and dynamic functions of human ingenuity such as skills and knowledge (Zimmermann 1951, Penrose 1959). More importantly, more resources emerge out of existing resources. In other words, resources are not; they become (Zimmermann 1951, Vargo and Lusch, 2004; 2011).

From managerial point of view, understanding how a potential resource (such as a company offering) ‘becomes’ an actual resource for a customer is highly critical for business success. In other words, the ‘resourceness’ of an offering must be perceived by the customer before the offering can become relevant in the eyes of the customer. The purpose of the paper is to examine this process of resources ‘becoming’.

In other words, the paper examines how potential resources get their ‘resourceness’ for a specific actor. In order to shed light on this process the paper draws from three different streams of literature: S-D logic discussion on context (Vargo and Lusch, 2011; Chandler and Vargo 2011; Vargo and Akaka 2012), the notion of framing (Callon 1998; Mason 2012) and literature on institutional logics (Thornton and Ocasio 2008; Thornton et al., 2012). The paper suggests that context can be seen as an institutional framework that is framing individual actors on multiple ‘levels’. Actors are using these partly conflicting institutional orders (with unique set of practices, principles and meanings) as frames to make sense of the ‘resourceness’ of potential resources in relation to specific resource integration activities.

Kaisa Koskela-Huotari (VTT) and Stephen L. Vargo (University of Hawaii at Manoa): Resources-in-context – the framing approach

Presented at AMA ServSig’14, June 13-15, Thessaloniki, Greece.