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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Walker

ISTR Day 2: Connecting Ideas

interior perspective of a communications tower

Today I was drawn to sessions that were more theoretical or adjacent to my own areas of interest and practice.

The first session was a panel discussion on the creation of markets for public goods, or the marketization of the nonprofit sector. There were a lot of really great questions about what is a market and markets as human constructs where the end consumer is a household or individual even if the purchaser is the government. Billie Sandberg referenced the New Public Management framework in her presentation of a comparative case study on two organizations whose services had been marketized by the local government. I asked the panelists if any of them had encountered the literature on intellectual capital (IC) as an organization framework that overcomes the limits of NPM, particularly, that focuses so narrowly on financial tools and decision-making processes aimed at creating efficiencies rather than on all of the organizational assets recognized and mobilized by the IC framework. Unfortunately only a fellow attendee, Cathy Knowles, who has a background in accounting and has a familiarity with valuing intangible assets for firms, had heard of the framework.

I went next to a panel on the non-academic job market, mostly out of morbid curiosity. Funnily enough, I encountered some conversation about intellectual property as researcher vs. employee vs. contract/work for hire. One of the comments made was “when we started the project we never talked about the implications of the intellectual property that would be created, though, eventually we sorted it all out.” Can't say that's the first time I've heard that Nonprofits really do generate a lot of knowledge, much of it in the form of manageable IP. I really hope that some day this area of asset management makes it into nonprofit management training and education.

Looking forward to what new ideas I learn about tomorrow!

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