Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Writing :: Understanding the value proposition as a cocreated claim

London, N., Pogue, G., & Spinuzzi, C. (2015). Understanding the value proposition as a cocreated claim. In Proceedings of IEEE professional communication society international professional communication conference (pp. 298–305). Limerick: IEEE.
This paper was part of a series of papers on entrepreneurship I've been writing along with partners at IC2 over the last two years. For this paper, we were interested in the notion of the value proposition, which is the claim of value to stakeholders. I was particularly interested in the value proposition because (a) it's a claim, and thus something rhetoricians should be able to address with our toolkit; (b) it sits at the intersection of two or more different activities, and is thus inherently a boundary-crossing claim.

It turns out that the value proposition has been generally underdefined and undertheorized in the relevant literature. One promising thread of literature has been Lusch and Vargo's discussion of Goods-Dominant Logic (which assumes that value resides in the good) vs. Service-Dominant Logic (which assumes that value comes from the service of providing the good). For this paper, we decided to explore the difference between the two, using five case studies in which the value proposition of a specific innovation was changed over time by the innovator.

The research itself was done by the lead author, Noelle London, who worked with Gregory Pogue (second author) and me over the course of a year. Noelle interviewed the business developers who mentored the innovators as well as examining innovator documents. (Noelle just finished her MA in Public Policy at the LBJ School here at UT, focusing on the Ecuadorean innovation ecosystem.) Greg and I provided feedback and extended the analysis. We're pretty happy with the resulting paper, although we already see points at which we can extend the analysis further.

In terms of writing, we each had things to contribute, and only by working together were we able to develop a strong finished piece. First, I developed a literature review of the GDL vs. SDL literature. Then Noelle abstracted the two perspectives so they could be contrasted, adding Lean Startup methodology for a third perspective to contrast. She worked closely with Greg to develop this line of thought, since Greg has vast experience in innovation and entrepreneurship. Based on this work, Noelle conducted the interviews, providing both the raw interviews and the assessment to us. I pulled the work together into a draft, essentially shaping it into the finished piece with frequent feedback from my two coauthors.

As I said, we already see points at which we would like to extend the analysis further. This paper is a step toward an expanded analysis, and we will perhaps take the next step soon, developing an article based on it. And that's perhaps the best takeaway for you, dear readers: each writing opportunity does not stand alone, it provides a step to the next one.

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