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Generating Cooperative Advantage: A Phenomenological Exploration of Structural Coupling as Value Coherence of Organizational Values and Consumer Values Open Access

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Abstract of DissertationGenerating Cooperative Advantage: A PhenomenologicalExploration of Structural Coupling as Value Coherence ofOrganizational Values and Consumer ValuesThis phenomenological study, using analogical reasoning (Tsoukas, 1993) and a first-person experience methodology, explored how consumer-firm structural coupling operates from the perspective of five consumers with long-term brand bonds (McEwen, 2005). Using an enactive view (Varela, Thompson, & Rosch, 1991; Thompson, 2007) to analyze the findings, the researcher concludes that structural coupling based on value coherence is a Dynamic Global Coupling relationship process by which coherent patterns of experience emerge from conjoined and reciprocally affecting values. Bowlby's (1982) attachment theory, which focuses on the ways in which people symbolize their connectedness to others, enhances our understanding of the consumer-firm relationship. As consumers engage firms in relationships, they derive both biological (physical) and psychological (mental) benefits from the relationship. Attachment theory adds to this dyadic link the notion of affection or affectivity (Parsons, 1951). Varela and Depraz (2004) viewed the concept of affect as the frontier between the realms of objectivity and subjectivity (e.g., affect is a pre-reflective dynamic in the self-constitution of the self). In other words, this study conducted continual adaptive matching or analogical coding of key descriptor terms to novelty occurring in phenomena from one consensual domain to that occurring in another.The data of this study revealed that emotion and cognition are "mutually specifying" (Varela & Depraz, 2004), mutually constraining, and operate with complementarity (Zajonc, 2004). In other words, mind can be emotion and cognition at the same time, as mind operates with complementarity (Zajonc, 2004). The values exhibited by the five participants of this study support the utility of conceiving of consumer attachment and brand loyalty from neither the consumer nor firm side solely, but as a composite unity (Maturana, 1978) or organization (relationship), which has many facets, attributes, and values that exist in relation to each other. In fact, instead of simply suggesting like Keller's (2003) that a brand is something that resides in the minds of the consumers, it may be more appropriate to state that a brand exists in the actual structural coupling between consumers and firms.

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