Organizations exist to create value for their stakeholders that stakeholders cannot create through individual effort. Information systems exist to increase an organization’s ability to create value using intellectual capital. A theoretical explanation of value might therefore be useful to increase the likelihood that IS/IT professionals would design and deploy systems in ways that increase value for stakeholders. This paper proposes Satisfaction Attainment Theory (SAT) as causal model of value creation. An organizational stakeholder is a person whose wellbeing might be advanced by an organization. Perceptions of value have reference to some object-of-value. The term, object, in the context of this paper, means anything to which one could ascribe value – e.g. goods, services, states, or outcomes. SAT assumes that people hold multiple, conflicting goals, and so must sacrifice the yield of some goal to attain others. It posits that an individual automatically and subconsciously sets an expectation for some level of utility from attaining a goal and assesses the likelihood that a goal will be attained. It also posits that individuals automatically and subconsciously assess yield the yield of a Set of Salient Goals (SSG). Any perceived Shift in the Yield Assessment (SYA) for the salient set of goals is automatically accompanied by an affective arousal proportional to and with a valence in the direction of the perceived SYA. SAT proposes that the value of an object is a positive function of the SYA that occurs when an individual contemplates sacrificing the yield of other goals to obtain the yield that could be derived from the object. Value is therefore created by making an individual aware of an opportunity to attain a positive SYA by sacrificing the yield of one set of goals to attain the yield of another set.

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ERIM Report Series Research in Management
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Briggs, R. O., Qureshi, S., & Reinig, B. (2004). Satisfaction Attainment Theory as a Model for Value Creation (No. ERS-2004-062-LIS). ERIM Report Series Research in Management. Retrieved from