Making Businesses Glow: Auraproduction as an Entrepreneurial Process

Marta Haugsand

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Purpose: Businesses exist and compete for the creation of value. However, in today’s overcrowded markets, businesses have to offer more than just new functionalities or more favorable economic characteristics in order to be competitive. They have to produce aura. Thus, this master’s thesis studies the concept and process of auraproduction with the purpose of extending knowledge about how value can be created. Research question: How can businesses create actionable value potential through aura? In particular, when, where, how, and by whom can value be created through auraproduction? Theoretical areas: To fulfill the purpose of this study, a tentative theoretical framework of auraproduction was developed, advancing Björkman’s (1998; 2002) conceptualization of auraproduction with theoretical considerations of entrepreneurship (as seen in Hjorth 2014) and value creation (as seen in Grönroos and Voima 2013). By defining the scope, locus, and nature of aura, as well as the roles and actions of those who produce aura, a structure was developed that is meaningful for analytical use as well as for theoretical and practical elaborations. Subsequently, a case study was conducted to challenge and refine the framework. Methodology: Based on an interpretivist research philosophy, the study was conducted following an abductive approach, alternating between the (previous) theory of auraproduction, value creation and entrepreneurship, and the empirical field, whereby both were successively interpreted and developed in light of each other. In particular, an interpretive case study of the furniture brand TAKT was made, where descriptive data was used to illustrate, support, and challenge the theoretical assumptions about auraproduction. A research diary was used in order to capture the generated data from semi-structured interviews, participant observations, as well as secondary data from the real-world context of TAKT. This served as a basis to code and analyze the data, as well as to reflect on the decisions made throughout the empirical research process. 1 Findings: The production of aura potential begins with a vision, based on values that represent desired conventions. These values challenge and inform the conventions of collaboration, design, manufacturing, and communication for the production of aura potential. Aura potential is actualized by the potential customer through viewing and using the product in direct and indirect interactions with the organization. Here, the organization influences and engages in the user’s production of aura through brand communication, through staging products in selected environments, and through establishing a presence in the media together with aura-mediators that help to reinforce the values of the brand. If someone decides to purchase a product, thereby affirming its potential to produce aura, they become a customer producing aura through (temporarily) owning and using the product. With the possibilities of social media, customers might invite the organization to engage in this process. Then, the organization can influence the customer’s production of aura again through direct and indirect interactions. The customer’s expressions of aura may be used as feedback to refine the production of aura potential by the organization. Furthermore, affiliation agreements with selected commercial or private customers may provide another opportunity to expose the product. Ultimately, aura is not what something or somebody is, but what something or somebody stands for. Auraproduction is the continuous representation of values through aesthetic and communicative choices. Contributions: By defining the scope, locus, and nature of aura and auraproduction, as well as the roles and actions of those who create aura, this study has not only contributed to the development of Björkman’s (1998; 2002) conceptualization of auraproduction, but has also updated it through a contemporary perspective based on an empirical case study of TAKT. This makes the concept of auraproduction more accessible and relevant for the practice of entrepreneurship.

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2019
Number of pages84
SupervisorsDaniel Hjorth