One of the most ambiguous terms in discussions about business and government is value. Everybody wants value in return for whatever they exchanged to get value. But whose value is more important and who is entitled to claim it? Customers conclude that they receive value if the benefits they received from a product or service meets or exceeds what they paid for it (including time, investment, cost, etc.). But shareholders and stakeholders believe if their investment return is less than the economic return they could have received from equally or less risky investments, they are disappointed. Value to employees is another issue altogether, most likely tied to compensation and job satisfaction.

Three groups believe they are entitled to value: customers, shareholders/stakeholders and employees. Are they rivals? What are the trade-offs? Is there an invisible hand controlling checks and balances to maintain an economic equilibrium so that each group gets its fair share? Are some groups more entitled to receiving value than others?

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