Toward a Unified Theory of Value: From Austrian Economics to Austrian Philosophy

Axiomathes 27 (5):531-559 (2017)
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Under one understanding of marketing, this discipline focuses on the creation of customer value. Although nobody doubts today that value is subjective and it emerges from consumer judgment, the causality is less clear. Do producers bring about value, or do consumers receive ‘raw’ products that only attain value in their estimation? Or, do producers and consumers co-create value as much of contemporary marketing theory assumes? Recent works on value creation, the building of customer relationships, and the service-dominant logic are related to insights derived from both Austrian schools of value theory. The emphasis on value as a ratio between perceived benefits and perceived costs may be seen as a continuation of Menger’s and Wieser’s work. The focus on relations as a category distinct from goods goes back to Böhm-Bawerk. And the service-dominant logic reflects insights developed both by Menger and by philosophers of the Brentano School. The direct influence of Austrian economics on business studies is small and is restricted to very few scholars. But the potential is great for a fruitful development of current approaches in marketing by drawing on insights from Austrian economics and, perhaps even more so, from Austrian philosophy. This paper defines the relations between the thought from economists and philosophers and presents examples for how cutting-edge marketing thinking may profit from both Austrian schools of value.



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Wolfgang Grassl
St. Norbert College

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