Value Co-Creation in Faculty-Led Study Abroad Programs: A Service-Dominant Logic Approach

Value Co-Creation in Faculty-Led Study Abroad Programs: A Service-Dominant Logic Approach

Sven Tuzovic (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0169-5.ch013
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Study Abroad (SA) education has become an increasingly important educational program for teaching global learning and intercultural competence, maturity, and sensitivity of students. Since the price tag attached to SA programs can be daunting, the question arises how value can be defined and, more importantly, how value is created. Some scholars have used the principles of service-dominant logic proposed by Vargo and Lusch (2004) to suggest that students should be engaged as an active co-creator of the university experience. Utilizing a qualitative research approach this chapter proposes that the value process of SA programs consists of three stages: (1) value proposition and potential; (2) resource integration and value co-creation; and (3) value realization evaluation. This study identifies key roles of the participants and their operand and operant resources that guide the value co-creation process. The framework provides faculty with a way to understand, adapt, and manage resource integration and influence students' SA value realization processes.
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Higher Education (HE) continues to undergo significant changes worldwide, confronted by challenges to contain costs while simultaneously improving student outcomes or increasing productivity (Rathee & Rajain, 2013). One element of initiatives taken has been the emergence of Study Abroad (SA) programs, evidenced by HE Institutions (HEIs) and educational policy makers substantially incentivizing SA participation (Salisbury, 2011). In the 2011/2012 academic year, over 280,000 US students studied abroad for academic credit (NAFSA, 2014) tripling in number over the past two decades (IIE, 2014). Correspondingly, the number of scholarly papers on the subject has increased more than 300% in the past decade (Cubillos & Ilvento, 2013). Such studies have found SA activities to yield strong influences on students’ development of global and intercultural outcomes (Stebleton et al., 2013, p. 4). For example, Braskamp et al. (2009, p. 101) noted that ‘education abroad has become an increasingly important educational program (experience) in global learning and development, intercultural competence, intercultural maturity, and intercultural sensitivity of students’.

More recently, Díaz-Méndez and Gummesson (2012, p. 576) argued ‘value that students expect and actually obtain from HE is a result of the conjunction between lecturers’ teaching quality and their learning capabilities’. A student-lecturer relationship thus ‘requires being approached from a value co-creation perspective’. In the context of studying abroad, students are often introduced to the host country both via side trips and through their own adventurousness (Gray et al., 2002; Simpson & Pham, 2006). Assuming that students immerse themselves physically, emotionally and mentally in their host culture they co-create their learning experience, which has a direct influence on learning outcomes, program satisfaction and positive word-of-mouth. Thus, viewing SA courses through the lens of co-creation, as implied by Ford and Bowen (2008), may have important implications for the design and management of these SA programs since the faculty member involved has to identify and organize value-creating activities. To date, however, little is understood about the nature of perceived value in HE, how it is created and the mechanisms for enhancing perceived value (Bowden & D’Alessandro, 2011).

The purpose of this chapter is to contribute to the ‘Marketing’ education and SA literature by exploring the ‘value creation’ process for students participating in faculty-led study-abroad programs. Drawing upon service-dominant logic (Vargo & Lusch, 2004, 2008), the concept of working consumers (Cova & Dalli, 2009) and SA theory, the author develops a framework that identifies roles and resources of SA participants and demonstrates the process of value co-creation during the stages of planning and preparation, cultural immersion and re-entry. Similar to Pongsakornrungsilp and Schroeder (2009) who posed two questions to understand how consumers collectively co-create value, this chapter aims to address the following research questions:

  • 1.

    What are roles of participants (i.e., faculty and students) within the value creation process?

  • 2.

    How does value co-creation take place in faculty-led SA programs?

Key Terms in this Chapter

Value: A key concept in marketing. In a traditional goods-oriented view, it refers to a consumer’s overall assessment of the utility of a product based on his/her perceptions of the benefits and costs. Value has been defined as the amount of money that something is worth (‘what one gets, is what s/he pays’). However, value goes beyond the monetary nature. Literature suggests that value is a complex and multi-dimensional construct with different meanings i.e., value as symbolic meaning, value as a relativistic preference experience or value-in-use. In HE, students play an active role in creating the value of a university service.

Co-Creation: Refers to the processes by which consumers and the firm (i.e., manufacturers, service providers) collaborate in creating value. While in a goods-oriented view the customer is seen as the target of a firm’s activities, SDL suggests that the customer is a co-creator of value. There are several key concepts in literature that are linked to value co-creation, for example, co-production, consumer involvement, and working consumers. In education, students become co-creator of their learning experiences. For example, students engage in university programs and activities in which they enhance their operant resources through acquiring new skills and building knowledge.

Service-Dominant Logic (SDL): A new paradigm of marketing thinking introduced by Vargo and Lusch (2004 , 2008 ) that has been the subject of great conceptual debate over the last decade. SDL asserts that marketing is moving away from a ‘goods-dominated’ view that centers on transactions of tangible goods, to a ‘service-dominant’ view which focuses on intangible resources and relationships as the fundamental source of value. SDL is based on several Foundational Propositions (FP). One of those propositions (i.e., FP6) states that the customer is always a co-creator of value. In other words, there is no value until an offering is used. In education, students co-create their own value through integrating their operant resources (i.e., skills, knowledge) with the resources of the university and staff.

Value-in-Use: According to the traditional logic, or goods-dominant logic, value is created by the firm and then distributed to the consumer in exchange for money (called ‘value-in-exchange’). SDL, on the other hand, suggests that value is co-created through interactions between the consumer and the provider. The customer becomes a collaborative partner in this process.

Operand Resources: Operand resources are tangible assets that are factors of production, such as raw materials or machinery. In a goods-centered logic, the operand resources are considered the primary source of a firm’s competitive advantage. In an educational context, this refers to a university’s economic resources, research facilities, location, or industry contacts.

Operant Resources: Operant resources refer to skills and knowledge. They are considered invisible and intangible resources that act upon operand resources. Following SDL, knowledge and specialized skills are the core of a firm’s competitive advantage. In an educational context, this refers to a student’s skills, knowledge, initiative, or imagination.

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