Resources are entities or attributes in their own right, but their value as resources in processes have to be considered in the context of the environment in which they may be used.

Resources have form that may be tangible or intangible, with a source in which the location and abundance can be defined, and they also have values of utility, exchange, possession, and mutability. The utility value of resources is dependent on the needs of the constituents concerned. However, where living creatures are involved they also have possession and exchange values that can only be considered within the context of the uses to which they may be put. Their location and availability is only relevant to the environment in which they are being considered. Oil lying beneath the Arabian Desert, Alaska, or the North Sea is a geological phenomenon related to life millions of years ago. Oil may be regarded as a valuable resource in relation to its extraction, which depends on its location, and its subsequent conversion into energy and other products. The value of the oil depends on the possession and whether the owners wish to exchange it for other valuable resources such as money. However, the forests and vegetation from which these oil deposits were formed in prehistoric times represented a valuable food resource to the contemporary dinosaurs.

Resources have a form, source, and value.

The form of tangible resources may be classified as material, vital, or territorial. Intangible resources may be categorised as informational, relational, or situational.

The source of resources may be accessible, enabling them to be used easily, as in the case of services such as electricity and power in a city. They may be elusive as with intangible resources such as morale and enthusiasm. They may be inaccessible as in the case of mineral resources in the Arctic Circle. The abundance of resources may be unlimited, as in the case of air and sunlight. The availability of resources may be sustainable, as in the case of crops of wheat in the USA, or they may be exhaustible as in the case of gold from a gold mine.

The value of resources depends on their utility, or the uses to which the resources are or may be put. They may be any one of permanent, or replaceable, or consumable. The exchange value of resources may be measurable, or unmeasurable, or indeterminate. The possession value may be satisfying, or unaffecting, or dissatisfying. The mutability or changeability value of resources during the time that they are possessed may be any one of stable, or declining, or may be enhancing. The value of cheese declines with time, whilst age enhances the value of fine wines. The value of a rock on top of a mountain is usually stable if it remains undisturbed, — at least throughout the lifetime of most human beings.


In the Grimm’s fairy tale Hansel and Gretel were lost in the forest, tired and hungry, and discovered the resource of a cottage made entirely of cake. This resource had a tangible form. Its source was conveniently located, accessible, and apparently sustainable. It had utility value that was consumable, an indeterminate exchange value, a satisfying possession value, and stable mutability (it wasn’t stale!). Unfortunately the resource belonged to an old witch who wished to eat the two children.



Form may be either tangible or intangible, or both.

Source will be at one or more locations and at some level of abundance.

Resources will have utility, exchange, possession, and mutability values.

Inspect the Glossary
Examine the Case Study
View the site
Discover the next step
Explore the book
 Return     Home