Value Networks: Definition, Benefits and Types

What Is a Value Network?

A value network is a set of connections between organizations and/or individuals interacting with each other to benefit the entire group. A value network allows members to buy and sell products as well as share information. These networks can be visualized with a simple mapping tool showing nodes (members) and connectors (relationships).

Key Takeaways

  • Value networks are connections between individuals or individuals and corporations in which their interactions benefit the group.
  • Members in a value network can buy and sell from one another as well as exchange important and relevant information.
  • Value networks can be depicted in mapping tools through nodes (members) and connectors (relationships).
  • The primary advantage of a value network includes the way a business or individual applies the resources, influence, and insight of their network connections.
  • Value networks help their members to grow value and consist of internal (e.g. research and development) and external (e.g. customers) resources.

Understanding a Value Network

In business and commerce, value networks are an example of an economic ecosystem. Each member relies on one another to foster growth and increase value. Value network members can consist of external members (e.g., customers) or internal members, such as research and development teams.

Value networks enhance innovation, social welfare, and the environment, as well as many other areas. Weakness in one node can affect the entire network. For example, if a development team is weak, the production team has a harder time creating the product, which can leave a buyer waiting for their shipment.

Types of Value Networks

The main types of value networks include the Clayton Christensen network, the Fjeldstad, and Stabells network, Normann and Ramirez constellations, and Verna Allee's networks.

Clayton Christensen Network

The Clayton Christensen network describes relationships that already exist externally and that any new entrants into the network will be molded to fit the current network or business model's shape. New entrants will have a difficult time to break through and/or provide new ideas or implement changes because the new entrants will most likely end up accommodating and falling in line with the current network.

Fjeldstad and Stabells Network

Fjeldstad and Stabells believe that the most important parts of a network are (1) customers, (2) services, (3) service providers and, (4) contracts that allow access to services. This theory states that customers are essential to the network and their involvement provides the added value. The most common example is social media, e.g. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, where customers sign up, agree to terms in the contract, and add the value to the network.

Normann and Ramirez Constellations

The Normann and Ramirez constellations value network believes networks to be fluid setups that allow for constant change and improvement. It is up to members in the network to analyze the current relationships and look for openings and opportunities as a way to add value.

Verna Allee's Networks

Verna Allee's networks believe that networks create both tangible and intangible values and that value network analysis should be incorporated into all facets of a business to extract the most value in every stage.

Benefits of a Value Network

The benefit that a value network provides comes from the way a business or individual applies the resources, influence, and insight of others to whom they are connected. A startup, for example, may look to its external connections, such as its investors and mentors, to provide experienced guidance on how to approach the development and growth of the business.

While many founders have a deep understanding of the product or service they develop, bringing that service to market, finding customers, and scaling up the business may be unfamiliar to them.

To make up for this shortcoming, they may seek the advice of trusted stakeholders with experience on such matters, which is considered an intangible benefit of their relationship. They might also look to groups that specialize in assisting startups, such as incubators and accelerators, to increase their exposure to potential mentors and investors.

Example of a Value Network

An investor typically provides their guidance to the startup they are backing because, by helping the leaders grow their ideas into a tangible company, stakeholders stand to benefit from the startup’s development. That guidance can take the form of expertise that the investor possesses.

The investor might foster introductions between the founders of the startup and other businesses they can work with to further their plans. For example, if the company needs to produce a prototype of its product, an investor might be able to direct them to another company that creates made-to-order prototypes. Likewise, if the startup is looking for a mass manufacturer or a distributor, the guidance they receive may benefit all involved as it can mean increased business for each organization and individual.

Article Sources
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  1. Clayton M. Christensen. "The Innovator's Dilemma," Pages 53-55. Harvard Business Review Press, 2013.

  2. ResearchGate. "Configuring Value for Competitive Advantage: On Chains, Shops, and Networks," Pages 427-429.

  3. National Library of Medicine. "From Value Chain to Value Constellation: Designing Interactive Strategy: Abstract."

  4. Verna Allee. "The Future of Knowledge Increasing Prosperity Through Value Networks," Page 192. Butterworth-Heinemann, 2003.