Conceptions of value as family resemblances: A theoretical model and methodology

Ron Fisher, Mark Francis, Andrew Thomas, Katherine Mutter, Owen Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Downloads (Pure)


This paper discusses actors’ conceptions of the nature of value. Value is an important facet in contemporary management paradigms and an integral part of business and education. Yet research over many years has failed to discover an essence or necessary condition of value. Consequently, the nature of value remains unclear. Recent research suggests that value is individual and experiential, and is more appropriately conceptualised in terms of family resemblances. Conceptualising value as a family supports a proposition that the nature of value may differ between people, time and place, though some aspects of it may be the same. In the context of a UK university we combine a new theoretical approach to understanding value with an adapted phenomenographic methodology and method. Thus, we are able to discover different conceptions of value while retaining the ability to build common understanding in a given context. Data are collected by means of interviews and narrative reports from actors at strategic and operational levels of a UK university, postgraduate students and prospective employers. Analysis is by means of computer-aided lexical analysis and template analysis
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-301
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Business and Society
Issue numberS2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • value
  • family resemblances
  • phenomenography
  • conceptions
  • computer-aided lexical analysis
  • Higher Education
  • Conceptions
  • Higher education
  • Value
  • Family resemblances
  • Computer-aided lexical analysis
  • Phenomenography


Dive into the research topics of 'Conceptions of value as family resemblances: A theoretical model and methodology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this