Customers as Resource Integrators: Toward a Model of Customer Learning

It is widely accepted that customers derive value through resource integration, by integrating their own resources with those provided by organization and other network actors. This perspective implies that customers must acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to be effective resource integrators as they engage in activities that facilitate or create value.

Supporting customer learning, then, is a pressing new challenge for firms that recognize customers engage in resource integration in the course of their value-creating processes. This article builds on an interactive model of self-directed learning to develop a model of customer learning for resource integration that identifies the characteristics of learning contexts, interactive elements of the learning process and links learning to customers’ effectiveness in resource integration activities. A future research agenda is set out, organized around the elements of our conceptualization that can generate much required managerial insights into the interactive process-based nature of customer learning and customers’ effectiveness as resource integrators. For practitioners who recognize the resource integration roles customers play, the authors raise a set of questions that will assist in developing marketing programs that support customer learning.

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