This isn't just a dry question: it's a matter of fundamental importance to companies, because it addresses the economic logic of why the organization exists in the first place.
Manufacturing companies create value by acquiring raw materials and using them to produce something useful. Retailers bring together a range of products and present them in a way that's convenient to customers, sometimes supported by services such as fitting rooms or personal shopper advice. And insurance companies offer policies to customers that are underwritten by larger re-insurance policies. Here, they're packaging these larger policies in a customer-friendly way, and distributing them to a mass audience.
The value that's created and captured by a company is the profit margin:
Value Created and Captured – Cost of Creating that Value = Margin
The more value an organization creates, the more profitable it is likely to be. And when you provide more value to your customers, you build competitive advantage.
Understanding how your company creates value, and looking for ways to add more value, are critical elements in developing a competitive strategy. Michael Porter discussed this in his influential 1985 book "Competitive Advantage," in which he first introduced the concept of the value chain.
A value chain…