Time, Potency, and Exchange: Making the Most of the Time Resource
"The real wealth of our nation is not money; it is the time of people and the willingness of people to use that time helping others." Ralph Nader
"Economics Beyond Money: How Things We Did Became Things We Buy." Edgar Cahn and Jonathan Rowe, in Time Dollars
Time -- a valued commodity, so that one never has enough of; a valued experience, treasured with one's children or with a special friend; a valued resource, untapped in countries moving to free markets from under a centrally planned regime. In all these examples, time is a basic element of exchange, having value and common understanding among individuals, groups, and nations.
The goal for this chapter is the examination of the role of time in exchange. This presents an interesting challenge, since time traditionally has been considered as a "background variable," made of finite units of clock passage, experienced in much the same way by everyone ( Gross 1987; Gronmo 1989; Hirschman 1987a). In contrast, our approach attempts to examine and integrate the multidimensional nature of time with the exchanges that are made by consumers every day.
When a unit of time, or a "clock block" is considered, perceptual, subjective experiences of time are identifiable, recognizable, and differentiable among consumers ( Gentry, Tansuhaj, and Ko 1993; Havlena and Holak 1991; Holak and Havlena 1992; Kaufman, Lane, and Lindquist 1991b). Individuals are found to experience time as "fast" or "slow," scheduled or free, and repetitive or varied. They have too much or not enough time, and may tend to emphasize past, present, or future in their thinking. Moreover, these experiences of time are often related to purchase behaviors in the marketplace ( Feldman and Hornik 1981; Graham 1981; Jacoby, Szybillo, and Berning 1976; Marmorstein, Grewal, and Fishe 1992). Attempts to fit this complex nature of time into exchange paradigms, however, is difficult at best. The usual equation-based models simply assume that time is counted, measured, and budgeted, and nothing else.