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Axioms of Value

  • Michael Reber (a1), Alex Duffy (a2) and Laura Hay (a2)


Extensive work exists on value in multiple domains. However, there are different interpretations, highlighting a lack of clarity about the fundamental characteristics. To address this, we present seven value axioms resulting from inductive research. The axioms may be viewed as general rules describing value in any context, therefore conveying the fundamental characteristics of the phenomenon. They reveal that value is: (1) connected to people; (2) an output of a cognitive process; (3) in requirement of a determination process; (4) a matter of a given situation; (5) determined by the interpretations of entities; and related to (6) entities and (7) criteria. The nature of value is of particular importance to the design community, given the emphasis on value in design and product development. In this context, a lack of clarity may be perceived in terms of when value appears, appropriate metrics, and how to add value. To provide explanations, there is a need for a theory of value in design. The presented axioms may provide the basis, as they are fundamental statements on the nature of value and not limited to a specific domain. We highlight theory requirements based on the axioms.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.

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Contact: Hay, Laura, University of Strathclyde, Design, Manufacture and Engineering Management, United Kingdom,


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Axioms of Value

  • Michael Reber (a1), Alex Duffy (a2) and Laura Hay (a2)


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