Value creation and appropriation in economic, social, and environmental domains: Recognizing and resolving the institutionalized asymmetries

Paavo Ritala*, Laura Albareda, Nancy Bocken

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Web of Science)


Value creation and appropriation are much-studied processes in business and management fields. However, both academia and business practice have traditionally focused on how value is created and appropriated in the economic context and by economic actors. This overemphasis on economic logic has created institutionalized asymmetries in managing the relationship between business, society and ecological environment. In this paper, we broaden the value creation and appropriation analysis along two dimensions: (1) the type of economic goods used to create value (private and club goods, public goods and common goods) and (2) value creation and appropriation domains (economic, social, and environmental). Building on this framework, we argue that there are several institutionalized asymmetries in the relationship between the goods used to create value and the domains in which the value is eventually appropriated. We point out the system-level tendency of value over-appropriation in the economic domain over the two other domains as well as value over-appropriation in the social domain over the environmental domain. We also discuss how existing organizational practices, such as corporate social responsibility, shared value creation, and sustainable business models, have attempted to overcome them, and reflect on the main critiques to these approaches. Finally, we identify potential business-based solutions to the institutionalized asymmetries and provide implications to research and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number125796
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2021


  • Value creation
  • Value appropriation
  • Economic goods
  • Institutionalized asymmetries
  • Sustainable business models

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