Foa, Uriel G. - Resource Theory

The Structure of Concern Project compares many theoretical models from many disciplines to the Adizes PAEI model, arguing that they must all be reflecting the same underlying phenomenon. One concern structure model is described below.

Resource theory represents human relationships and interaction as methods for providing people with six social resources: love, services, goods, money, information and status. Each resource can be exchanged for another, or people can reciprocally exchange the same resource. The possibilities are often illustrated by an encircled hexagon, with each of resources labelling a vertex, and all of the vertices connected to all the others by lines. Around this circle a box is drawn, and the four sides of the box are labelled, in terms that describe the structure of concern (Foa et al., 1993; Foa, 1993).

The dimensions are described as high-low concreteness dimension (or concrete-symbolic), and a high-low particularistic dimension (particularistic-universal). Exchanges of goods and services are concrete, exchanges of information and status interactions are more symbolic. We are very particular about who we give and receive love with, but we’ll exchange money with anyone in a marketplace without cheapening or degrading the value of that money.

In PAEI terms, P is concrete and E is symbolic, while I is particular and A universal. On this account therefore, P and E differ along a “what” dimension regarding goals and rewards, while I and A differ along a “who” dimension of people to whom the interactive pattern applies. Resource preferences of the four different PAEI style could be described thusly:

P – High Concreteness: Focus on tangible acquisitions. Preferred resources: goods and services.
A – Low Particularism: Focus on standard, universal, generic exchanges. Preferred resources: money, followed by information and goods.
E – Low Concreteness: Focus on symbolism. Preferred resources: information and status.
I – High Particularism: Focus on interpersonal interactions. Preferred resources: love, followed by services and status.

1. Foa, U. G. (1993). “Interpersonal and Economic Resources.” In U. G. Foa, J. Jr. Converse, K. Y. Törnblom, & E. B. Foa Resource Theory: Explorations and Applications (pp. 13-30). San Diego: Academic Press.
2. Foa, U. G., Törnblom, K. Y., Foa, E. B., & Converse, J. Jr. (1993). “Introduction: Resource Theory in Social Psychology.” In U. G. Foa, J. Jr. Converse, K. Y. Törnblom, & E. B. Foa Resource Theory: Explorations and Applications (pp. 1-10). San Diego: Academic Press.
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