The Ikea Effect

Allen Wrenches

SOURCE: Flickr user rustman

NPR offers a fun little tidbit on the “Ikea Effect,” the tendency for each of us to ascribe extra value to the things we have created ourselves. Described and tested in a 2011 academic whitepaper, the Ikea Effect is not limited to products from the Swedish megastore, but to any object of personal labor. Says the NPR correspondent:

Once people finish building their table or their bookshelf – and they may have built it very badly and done a terrible job – they think that table is now much more valuable than a table that was assembled by a professional.

The challenge of the effect is that it also seems to hold true for our ideas. If we’ve constructed our own strategy or service or business idea, we can also attach extra value that our colleagues or our potential communities might not see.

There is useful insight in here for those arts organizations encouraging ‘co-creation’ opportunities for audiences and communities, where participation may bring enhanced perceptions of value. But there’s also a warning for any individual, group, or organization that makes stuff — that the value of what they make may only be obvious to those who worked to make it.


  1. says

    Great point! It also reminded about the critical importance of gathering input as part of strategic planning. When people have participated by sharing their opinions, they are more likely to feel a part of and support a new strategic plan even if final outcome is not what they wanted.