Value (economy)

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The value (also: economic value , English value ) is in economics the quantitatively measurable significance of economic objects ( goods , claims and services ) resulting from prices , the exchange ratio of an economic object to another or a maximum acceptable limit price ( decision value ) corresponds.


The word value comes from the Old High German “werd” of the 8th century, which means something like “valuable”, “precious” or “worth”. Since then, the concept of value has been characterized by a broad, interdisciplinary meaning. But even in economics, the concept of value is controversial. In any case, an economic value requires a relationship between the economic object and economic subjects , for example between goods and their owners. A good therefore only has any value at all for someone who owns or wants to own it. For the economist Bruno Hildebrand in 1865 the value of a thing existed only for and only through the people; person and thing stand opposite each other.

Value and price are often used interchangeably in colloquial language, but economics distinguish them. While the price represents the exchange value measured in monetary units of a specific exchange between market participants , the value is understood to be the aggregated asking price of a group of market participants or a model-based calculated key figure that depends on the expected amount, risk and time of the payments of a valuation object ("subjective decision value " ). The price therefore always includes the individual and subjective ideas about an asset , while the value in neoclassical valuation theory is considered intersubjective and is therefore viewed as an objectified price ("market value"). Others, e.g. B. the investment-theoretical valuation approaches are basically based on a subjective value, that is dependent on the individual valuation subject, the subjective decision value (see further explanations on valuation theories below).

The relationship between the individual and his property in the sense of a subject-object relationship is important for the creation of a value. In order to establish or terminate the relationship to the economic object, the purchase or sale of goods is required that make an assessment necessary in order to be able to quantify the type or amount of the consideration . Economics also has the task of evaluating goods in order to make reality calculable and comparable. Because economic activity forces the introduction of a measure and calculation variable that is determined by evaluation. Not only goods, but also services have a (use) value.

Value word component of a plurality of compound words such as acquisition value , present value , lending value , point value , decision value, yield value , monetary value , intrinsic value , the market value , property value , intrinsic value , corporate value , market value , insurance value , impairment or future performance value. These are substantial concepts of value and value conventions that attach a value to a process (acquisition value ) or an economic object (mortgage lending value). A substantial value exists when an economic object serves to satisfy needs.


According to the intended use, a distinction is made between exchange and use value as well as decision value. The exchange value plays a role in the exchange of goods, especially in the case of a sales contract , lease or other business and also in the case of unilateral donations . The use value , however, does not require any transactions , but is exhausted in the individual use of a good when it is used by an economic subject. While exchange value is more of an objective value, use value is more of a subjective value. The model-based calculated decision value serves as the basis for a decision, e.g. B. on buying and selling a property to be valued. He can z. B. be interpreted as the maximum acceptable purchase price (marginal price). It depends on the expected amount, risk (income risk / income volatility) and time of the payments (income, cash flows) generated by the valuation object for the valuation subject (e.g. buyer).


Already Aristotle (384–322 BC) differentiated in his politics between use value and exchange value. "You can use a shoe to wear it, but also to exchange it, both are possible uses of the same shoe". However, goods can have a use value have own as with all without an exchange value -free goods (such as air ) and all for their own gratification self-manufactured goods (such as the grain of the farmer for own consumption ). Aristotle did not investigate where the value of goods comes from, but found that every good has a use and exchange value. For Aristotle, the measure of exchange value is need. The scholastics Thomas Aquinas and Albertus Magnus developed Aristotelian economics further in the Middle Ages and saw labor and costs ( Latin labor et expensae ) as an objective measure of value. The profit could only refer to these costs expended by the church's doctrine of value, but not excessive.

Depending on the theoretical perspective, classical economics sees its subjective use ( John Law , John Locke ), manufacturing costs ( Adam Smith ), working time ( David Ricardo , Karl Marx ), or supply and demand ( Jean Baptiste Say ) as the main determinants of the value of an economic object. on.

In 1705, for the first time since Aristotle, John Law made a distinction between subjective use value and exchange value and tried to explain this using the example of silver . As goods ( commodities ) Silver had a value because of its benefits for non-monetary purposes (as jewelry or utensils ). He assumed that the additional value resulting from the function of silver as a means of payment and independent of its use value (exchange value; French valeur additionelle ) was exclusively due to its function as a means of payment. "The additional value that silver experiences from its use of money comes from the properties that make it appear useful for this use, and this value results from its use as money." In doing so, he tried the substitutability of gold and silver To justify paper money . The Scot Law was head of the Banque Générale in Paris from 1715 and considered the use value (by him there simply called French valeur ; actually French valeur des usages to differentiate from exchange value, French valeur des échanges ) as more important.

Adam Smith also differentiated between use value ( English value in use ) and exchange value ( English value in exchange ) and in his book The Prosperity of Nations of March 1776 pointed out the value antinomy that there are also goods with a high use value and a low exchange value and vice versa. The water has a high use value, but no exchange value, with diamonds it is the other way around. Smith derived the exchange value of a good from the time used to make it. For him, work was regarded as determining value: "Work is ... quite obviously the only generally valid and also the only exact measure of value ... according to which the values ​​of the various goods can be compared anytime and anywhere". David Ricardo took over the basic ideas of the labor theory of value from Smith in 1817 and developed this concept further. The value depends on the volume of work and the scarcity , because rare things cannot be increased by using more work; among other things he mentions “wine of special quality”. For him wages do not change the relative value of goods, only the volume of labor. "The value of a good ... depends on the proportionate amount of labor required to produce it and not on the greater or lesser remuneration paid for this work". The consequence of this would be that the value of the goods would decrease if fewer production factors were used in its manufacture . The longer the capital is tied up, the higher the value of the goods must be.

In 1826, Jean Baptiste Say for the first time also assigned a value to immaterial goods and tried to remove the character of materiality from the concept of value. In 1828 he assumed that the exchange value of goods was based on their usefulness, which, although individually different, could form an average opinion ( French une estimation générale de l'utilité de chaque objet ). For him, the usability of things is their value, which is made up of rent , labor value and capital profit . He rejected labor theory of value as an explanation for the height of the price and put supply and demand in its place. According to him, supply is determined by production costs and demand by utility. As a result, the value of the goods offered is always the same as the value of the goods in demand. In 1858 John Stuart Mill avoided a definition of value, saying that value is simply a "relative expression". For him, the exchange value can lag behind the use value, but not exceed it.

Karl Marx dealt with the objectivist theory of value, following Ricardo to the effect that working time creates value. However, Marx clearly distinguishes himself from Ricardo, especially "because the average prices do not directly coincide with the value of the goods, as A. Smith, Ricardo, etc. believe." For Marx, the price and value of a commodity are largely independent of one another. Instead, for him value is above all a category of social mediation, or a type of social interaction (on the market) that only prevails in bourgeois (capitalist) society: "The value form of the work product is the most abstract but also the most general form the bourgeois mode of production, which is characterized as a special kind of social production and thus at the same time historically. " The " form of value " is the mode of production (or mode of operation) insofar as work takes place for the purpose of exchange value, that is, for exchange and not for personal consumption. This work is divided into socially necessary working time and additional working time, the latter creating added value. Work forms the value, "but it itself has no value". In simple terms, socially necessary means: competitive. Employees not only get less money, they get no money at all if they do not achieve a competitive level of productivity (for example by operating machines or making enough calls to the call center), otherwise they will not find a job. Since all money can ultimately be traced back to human labor, “… a good has only one value because abstract human labor is objectified or materialized in it”, even if the good is a dividend. The amount of extra work skimmed off in the form of objectified exchange value (money) is the measure of social wealth. This is to be distinguished from wealth through use values: they "form the material content of wealth". The concept of surplus value , with its subspecies absolute surplus value and relative surplus value, forms the central subject of his labor theory of value .

The concept of value has been a legal concept in Germany for the first time since May 1897 when it appeared in the German Commercial Code (HGB). For the business economist Heinrich Nicklisch in 1922 value concepts should create a convention on how the goods to be valued are to be related to a value. In 1929 Hugo Meyerheim saw value as “just as much a property of an economic good as weight is a property of physical objects”. For Konrad Mellerowicz in 1952, economic value was always a price. In 1955 Werner Ruf pleaded for a strict separation between price and value, because value represented a ranking of goods for Wolfram Engels in 1962 , while price represents the exchange ratio on the market . Prices are thus observable, but values ​​as calculated key figures are not. For Engels the value depended on the “decision-making field” of the evaluator (evaluation subject), which led to the development of the concept of “subjective decision-making values”. In 1968, the sociologist Jürgen Friedrichs differentiated between three value concepts, namely value as a good, as a need and as the relationship between good and buyer. Michael Heinrich described approaches that see the value determined by both the subjective benefit and the embodied work as “ subjective labor value theory ”.

Value theories

Value theories try to explain the value attached to an economic object. A distinction is made between objective, subjective and functional value theory, also in the context of company valuation . Objective value theories are the oldest; Even the doctrine advocated by Adam Smith conceived the value of a good as its property, the value of which is the market price . That is why the value of a good is identical to its market price, which applies to everyone. Objective value theories ignore use value and explain exchange value from production costs. This value is the same for all economic subjects, so that every economic subject can realize the same value from an economic object. They are based on past and present values ​​and favor the intrinsic value . On the one hand, objective value theories do not take into account the special situation of buyers and sellers and their interests, on the other hand, an objective value cannot generally be determined because it results from an object-subject relationship. The labor theory of value is an objective theory of value that explains the value of goods in terms of the labor time expended in its production.

The subjective theories of value emerged at the end of the 19th century and differentiate between value and price. They viewed value as the result of personal preferences for certain goods, so that different benefits and values ​​can be ascribed to a good - depending on preferences. Therefore, different individual concepts of benefit automatically lead to different values. The neoclassical theory tried to derive the value from an individual appreciation for an economic good. When determining value, the individual benefit and the scarcity of a good play an essential role.

The functional theory of value takes over the basics of use value and the future-oriented evaluation from the subjective theory of value and supplements them with the purpose of the evaluator and the objectives. The Cologne function theory ( Walther Busse von Colbe , Hans Münstermann , Günter Sieben and Manfred Jürgen Matschke ) and the methods of the IDW form the essential fundamentals . The IDW introduced the function of the neutral expert, the functional theory of value. With regard to the theoretical foundation, a distinction is made between utility theory, financing theory (capital market oriented), investment theory and hybrid methods (e.g. semi-investment theory using "imperfect replication").


In the context of accounting , commercial law , tax law and accounting law deal with the concept of value. In order to determine a value for balance sheet purposes, it is necessary to evaluate individual balance sheet items . For the valuation, there are the legal terms value, common value , stock exchange or market price and market value .

The central regulation in commercial law is § 253 HGB , which deals with the valuation of assets and debts in the balance sheet . It stipulates that, on the one hand, the assets are to be valued at their acquisition or production cost less the depreciation ( lower of cost or market principle ). On the other hand, liabilities must be stated with their settlement amount and provisions in the amount of the settlement amount necessary according to a reasonable commercial assessment ( maximum value principle ; Section 253 (1) HGB).

The common value is the central concept of value in tax law, which, however, plays a subordinate role in accounting due to the priority of the other value concepts. According to the legal definition of § 6 Paragraph 1 No. 1 Clause 3 EStG, the partial value is the amount that an acquirer of the entire business would apply within the scope of the total purchase price for the individual asset according to the continuation principle .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Manfred Jürgen Matschke / Gerrit Brösl: company valuation . 2005, p. 7-12 .
  2. Christine Baumbach, Peter Kunzmann (Ed.): Dignité. 2010, p. 72.
  3. Johannes Erich Heyde: Value: a philosophical foundation. 1926, p. 7.
  4. Bruno Hildebrand (Ed.): Yearbooks for Economics and Statistics. Volume 4, 1865, p. 171 ( ).
  5. ^ Matthias Thomas, Karl Werner Schulte: Handbook real estate portfolio management. 2007, p. 11.
  6. ^ Philipp Senff: Compliance Management in China. 2015, p. 45.
  7. Benedikt Herles: Value in the mirror of economic rationality. 2011, p. 1 ( ).
  8. ^ Daniel Ranker: Real estate valuation according to HGB and IFRS. 2006, p. 9 ( ).
  9. Jürgen Ritsert: Value: Why something is dear to us. 2013, p. 1 ( ).
  10. Stefan Bartsch: A reference model for the value contribution of IT. 2014, p. 89 ff. ( ).
  11. ^ W. Gleißner: Uncertainty, Risk and Company Value. (PDF) In: Company Valuation Manual. K. Petersen, C. Zwirner, G. Brösel (Eds.), 2013, pp. 691–721 , accessed on June 8, 2018 (Bundesanzeiger Verlag).
  12. ^ Aristotle: Politics. 1257 a 5-10, whereby neither the text nor the context is about value - rather that an object has an instinctive function (to be attracted) and has an external function (to be exchanged).
  13. Thomas von Aquin: Law and Justice: Theological Sum II-II. Questions 77-78, approx. 1270
  14. Bernd Schlöder: Social values ​​and values. 1993, p. 41 f. ( ).
  15. ^ Hans Weber: John Law. 1928, p. 1 FN 1.
  16. ^ John Law: Money and Trade. 1705, p. 197 f.
  17. Adam Smith: The Wealth of Nations. 1776, pp. 13/27.
  18. Adam Smith: The Wealth of Nations. 1776, p. 13 ff.
  19. Adam Smith: The Wealth of Nations. 1776/1826, p. 33.
  20. Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations. 1776/1999, p. 33.
  21. David Ricardo: On the principles of political economy and taxation. 1817/1959, p. 10.
  22. David Ricardo: On the principles of political economy and taxation. 1817/1959, p. 27.
  23. David Ricardo: On the principles of political economy and taxation. 1817/1923, p. 9.
  24. ^ Jean Baptiste Say: Traité d'économie politique. 1826, p. 44.
  25. Rudolf Kaulla : The historical development of modern value theories. 1906, p. 190.
  26. ^ Jean Baptiste Say: Cours d'économie politique pratique. 1828, p. 163.
  27. John Stuart Mill: priciples of Political Economy. 1858, p. 587.
  28. ^ Karl Marx: The capital . In: MEW . tape 23 , p. 180 f., fn 37 .
  29. ^ Karl Marx: The capital . In: MEW . tape 23 , p. 95, fn 32 .
  30. ^ Karl Marx: MEGA II / 5 . P. 434.
  31. ^ Karl Marx: The capital. Volume 1, 1867/1983, p. 54.
  32. ^ Karl Marx: The capital. Volume 1, 1867/1983, p. 50.
  33. Heinrich Nicklisch: economic management. 1922, p. 11.
  34. ^ Hugo Meyerheim: The movement in value in the company. In: ZfB 1929, p. 714 ff.
  35. Konrad Mellerowicz, Value and Evaluation in Business. 1952, p. 29
  36. Werner Ruf: The basics of a business value concept. 1955, p. 84.
  37. Wolfram Engels: Business valuation in the light of decision theory. 1962, pp. 35, 46, 105 ff.
  38. Jürgen Friedrichs: Values ​​and social action. 1968, p. 48 f.
  39. Michael Heinrich: The science of value. 3. corr. Edition, Münster 2003, p. 34 ff.
  40. ^ Andreas Pfnür: Modern real estate management. 2004, p. 17 ( ).
  41. Konrad Mellerowicz: The value of the company as a whole , 1952, p. 12
  42. Volker H. Peemöller: Value and value theories. 2005, p. 5.
  43. ^ Walther Busse von Colbe : The future success. 1957, p. 18.
  44. Günter Sieben : The decision value in the functional theory of company valuation. In: BFuP, Volume 28, Issue 6, 1976, p. 492 ff.
  45. Günter Sieben, The Decision Value in the Functional Theory of Company Valuation, in: BFuP, 28th Jg., Heft 6, 1976, p. 491
  46. Ulrich Schacht, Matthias Fackler (Ed.): Practical handbook company valuation. 2009, p. 15 f. ( ).
  47. ^ J. Schosser, M. Grottke: Benefit-based company valuation: an outline of the recent literature . In: Schmalenbach's journal for business research . 65th volume, 2013, p. 306-341 .
  48. ^ T. Hering: Company valuation . 3. Edition. 2014.
  49. G. Dorfleitner, W. Gleißner: Valuing streams of risky cash flows with risk-value models . In: Journal of Risk . Issue 3, 2018, p. 1-27 .