Report from the recent OECD-MIT intangibles conference

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I was honored to be invited to the intangibles policy conference late last year in DC organized by MIT as part of the on-going project at the OECD. The presentations are now available on line.

 

One opening note: the OECD has shifted away from talking about intangible capital and now calls it knowledge-based capital (KBC).  Even though I wrote a book called Intangible Capital, I’m sympathetic to the dilemma. Vocabulary is still an issue in our field. Not sure that KBC is that much of an improvement but you better add KBC to your glossary and move on to the substance.  Because the basic ideas are not in question. KBC/IA/IC are the dominant drivers of our economies and our companies today. So let’s just keep trying to build the field.

 

This conference provided a lot of good new perspectives to our collective discussion. It also brought a number of new people into the conversation.  The format of this conference was panels of three or so academics discussing different facets of the field including:

  • Corporate Reporting and National Accounts
  • Ownership and Capital
  • Digitization
  • Human Capital
  • Intellectual Property
  • Taxation

For those of you who notice these things, you can't have a conference on this topic and not address the many facets of intangibles. Although they didn't use the IC framework, the discussions hit on all four categories of human, relationship, structural and strategic capital.

This was primarily a policy conference but there’s a lot here for businesspeople too. The webpage for the conference has most of the slide decks used by the speakers.  A few highlights include Andy Updegrove on standards, Carol Corrado (a leader in thinking about economic measures) on future data needs and Michael Mandel suggesting that data is a new category of goods (as in products+services+data).

 

There’s a related conference in Paris in February. If you go, please let us know what you learn.

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