Posts Tagged ‘intangible assets’

T0-2 Starting a New KM Language in Your Organization

October 13, 2009

Starting KM in your organization also means starting to learn a new KM language among your members. A simple tool towards this end is an FAQ on KM (FAQ=frequently asked questions) which can be circulated among members or placed in the KM webpage in your intranet.

Download CCLFI’s FAQ on KM by pressing “Ctrl” while clicking HERE. The FAQ will appear in a new browser tab.

wordle of FAQ

Thanks to Wordle for the above “word cloud” of the FAQ

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Personal Intangible Assets and Intentions

August 14, 2009

Among KM practitioners, the word “knowledge” has a very specific meaning, namely, “capacity for effective action” (see previous blog posts “F5- A Proposed KM Framework” and “Practical Exercise #15: Ingredients of Effective Group Action”).

I wrote a paper entitled “Organisational energy and other meta-learning from case studies of knowledge management implementation in nine Asian countries”. It will be published soon by Routlege in the next issue of the Knowledge Management for Development Journal. In this paper, I reviewed 22 KM case studies from Asian countries and 21 KM case studies from the Philippines, and I concluded that effective action is the result of two factors: knowledge assets and “organizational energy“. I defined the latter term as motivational, intentional, relational and related factors that determine effective group action. A knowledge worker must “know” how to do a job well, AND he/she must be “willing or wanting” to do it. See blog post: “Q23- Know-how (=Knowledge) without “Willing-to.” Organizational energy is a part of an organization’s capacity to create value. Organizational energy is part of its intangible assets.

KM practitioners know that KM to be successful must be accompanied by one form or another of “change management” (click “Change Management Must Accompany KM” in the CCLFI opening page). If you examine the repertoire of a change management expert, you will conclude that all change management interventions aim to enhance organizational energy — it seeks, enhances, encourages, builds upon or enables “willingness” of employees to perform the desired actions. (see: “A Success Factor in KM: Motivating Knowledge Workers”)

Therefore, to optimize person-to-person communication for either creation or transfer of knowledge, organizational energy must be managed, including paying attention to the intention behind our communication acts.

Let me share an insight about personal intangible assets.

I blogged about people who had experienced looking at death face-to-face, and surviving from that experience. The experience leaves them with a heightened appreciation of life. They listen to, engage with, and live life more fully. The experience also results in a valuable learning, namely, that when your time is up, we leave behind many things that we thought we “own”. Think about this: when you or I cross the threshold to death, we leave behind:

  • Our tangible assets: properties like house and land, financial wealth, explicit knowledge, equipment and technologies (you can’t bring your laptop with you!);
  • Our physical body and its physical or biological life;
  • Our academic, professional and social credentials and positions.

I had assumed that religious beliefs cannot be scientifically scrutinized. I realized I could be wrong after I read books such as Dr. Raymond Moody’s popular book “Life After Life”. Since that time, much research in transpersonal psychology had grown. This subfield is not yet recognized by the American Psychological Association, but a couple of universities had started to offer doctoral programs in transpersonal psychology.

Thanks to this new field of research, we are beginning to see new insights about life and learning.

Dr. Moody is a physician in Pennsylvania who noted that patients who unexplainably regained consciousness hours after having been pronounced clinically dead (“spontaneous revival”) almost always have a story to tell about their “in-between” experience. The fact that some people can regain full consciousness and bodily functions hours after the brain had been deprived of oxygen is itself a medical mystery. But Dr. Moody’s interest was elsewhere: in those stories. The stories seem to exhibit similarities. Listening to the stories, it appears that the “in-between” experiences were often life-transforming for those patients. His interest grew and he sought and collected more stories from other hospitals. Eventually he published the case studies in book form in 1978.

The similarities he observed across many stories were as follows. Patients recall:

  • Passing through and eventually emerging from a dark tunnel to a place of light;
  • Meeting or being met by relatives and friends who had died before;
  • Reviewing their life in a split second — as if watching a super fast movie;
  • Having someone beside them during the life review, whose demeanour is kind and non-judgmental (the identity of this “someone” varies according to the religious belief of the patient);
  • This “someone” asks basically two questions during the life review: Q1: What have you learned? Q2: Whom have you helped or loved?;
  • Then the patient “returns” back to life.

Dr. Moody was intrigued by the similarities because the patients who told their stories were unknown to one another (and therefore they could not have secretly conspired to tell similar stories). In fact many patients regard their experience with so much significance and respect that some hesitate at first to reveal their experiences.

Did you notice that Q1 is about (using KM language) gain in human capital while Q2 is about gain in relationship capital? The indications from Dr. Moody’s studies are: we do leave behind all our tangible assets; these are NOT ours, at least not in any permanent way. But our intangible assets do stay with us! They are really OUR assets.

Findings from transpersonal psychology, and knowledge accumulated by those who practice what we can call experiential technologies (e.g. Tibetan Buddhism; see my previous blog post “A Paradox of 20th Century Scientific Practice”), indicate that we can bring with us:

  • Our intangible assets: tacit knowledge, lessons learned, relationships;
  • Our capability to be consciously aware and to make decisions, choices or intentions.

The book I am reading now is Stephen Levine’s “A Year to Live: How to Live This Year As If It Were Your Last.” I am happy to learn that many of the skills and tools in conscious living (and in “Indigo Learning Practices” in this blog series) we have been practicing and developing at CCLFI, are useful not only for personal KM and organizational learning, but also for fearlessly and smoothly crossing the threshold to death.

We saw in previous blog posts that intangible assets are more important than tangible assets in: (a) GWP and the global economy, (b) in corporations, and (c) in development of poor communities. And now we see that intangible assets are also fundamentally important at the personal level.



“It is said that for money you can have everything, but you cannot. You can buy food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; knowledge, but not wisdom; glitter, but not beauty; fun, but not joy; acquaintances, but not friends; servants, but not faithfulness; leisure, but not peace. You can [buy] the husk of everything, but not the kernel.” – Arne Garborg, Norwegian writer and reformist

Note that there are embedded links in this blog post. They show up as colored text. While pressing “Ctrl” click on any link to create a new tab to reach the webpages pointed to. Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the use of the image in this blog post.

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Q28- Recap of KM Virtues and Gaps, or Will KM Disappear?

May 30, 2009

This Q Series had been a successful one; 16,267 hits came in since it started. We end this blog series with this summarizing post. To better appreciate an item that strikes you, I suggest reading the blog which explains that point. The blogs are accessible from this post through embedded links (which appear as colored text). While pressing “Ctrl”, you can click on the colored text to create a new tab to read the previous blog post referred to.

Virtues of KM and OL (organizational learning):

Gaps in KM and OL practice:

What we need next, a new KM or the next discipline after KM:

Q28 cartoon

We will start the new L Series on “Indigo Learning Practices” in the next blog. Stay tuned in!

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A Paradox of 20th Century Scientific Practice

May 23, 2009

Science as practiced in the 19th and 20th centuries lies in Quadrant 3: it is biased towards observing and studying the outer world of forms and phenomena. With few exceptions, the inner world of consciousness is either ignored, denied or regarded as not real or less real, or reduced to its empirical, behavioral or operational counterparts. Listen to these authors:

    “Values, life meanings, purposes, and qualities slip through science like sea slips through the nets of fishermen. Yet man swims in this sea, so he cannot exclude it from his purview.”

    – Huston Smith

    The “modern Western character complex is connected with a peculiar perception of all things – including psychic and mental things – as ultimately reducible to quantifiable material entities. This is what gives it its ‘outwardness’.”

    – Robert Thurman

    Science views as real “any objectifiable entity or process that could be described in valueless, empirical, monological, process it-language.” According to this “flatland” view of the cosmos, “none of the interior dimensions and modes of knowing has any substantial reality at all… The mistake of modern science is that “all interior dimensions (of I and WE) were reduced to exterior surfaces (of objective ITs)… Modern science “aggressively invaded the other value spheres – including interior consciousness, psyche, soul, spirit, value, morals, ethics and art… pronouncing on what was, and what was not, real.”

    – Ken Wilber

The foundation of scientific knowledge is the scientific method of establishing objectivity and empirical validity. Listen to these quotations, particularly the eminent Austrian expert in the philosophy of science Karl Popper:

    Objectivity is based on “eliciting intersubjective agreement.”

    – Huston Smith

    “Ultimate truth, if there be such a thing, demands the concert of many voices.”

    – Carl Jung

    “…the objectivity of scientific statements lies in the fact that they can be inter-subjectively tested.”

    — Karl Popper

Current scientific practice is objective and outward in orientation, yet the very foundation of scientific validity is inter-subjective corroboration. Scientists in the 19th and 20th centuries prefer to define reality in terms of Quadrant 3, yet the fundamental basis of their method of validation is inter-subjective processes in Quadrant 4. Objectivity depends on inter-subjective invariance. Intersubjectivity is at the foundation of objectivity!

This paradoxical blind spot in modern science will fade away if science evolves to also embrace Quadrant 4 or what I call “indigo practices”. The indicators that this may have started to happen are:

  • The growth of humanistic and transpersonal psychology;
  • The emergence of experiential-phenomenological methods of anthropology (e.g. the early works of Carlos Castaneda);
  • Interest in paranormal studies;
  • Emergence of organizational learning and specifically the practice of team learning and dialogue;
  • The emergence of management of knowledge and other intangible assets;
  • The convergence between modern science and religion exemplified by the Mind and Life Institute mentioned in a previous blog.

These events are all part of global Megatrend #1: towards Yin. An interesting convergence that is worth watching is that between transpersonal psychology (Quadrant 3 science moving towards Quadrant 4) and Tibetan Buddhism (the only major religion that straddles Quadrants 1 and 4).

If mainstream scientific practice has been outward-looking, then its inward-looking mirror-image is Tibetan Buddhism. While modern science has developed empiricism (which is consensual corroboration using outward-looking data) for over 3 centuries to its present height, Tibetan Buddhism is unique in having developed the practice of consensual corroboration using inward-looking or experiential data gathered by thousands of monk-practitioners (lamas) for over 12 centuries. Quoting Thurman again:

    “In Western culture, the last frontiers of our material conquest of the universe are in outer space. Our astronauts are our ultimate heroes and heroines. Tibetans, however, are more concerned about the spiritual conquest of the inner universe, whose frontiers are in the realms of death, the between, and contemplative ecstasies. So, the Tibetan lamas who can consciously pass through the dissolution process, whose minds can detach from the gross physical body and use a magical body to travel to other universes, these ‘psychonauts’ are the Tibetans’ ultimate heroes and heroines.”

experiencing outer vs inner universe

The above critique of prevailing scientific practice is part of a paper I wrote in 2004 entitled “Patotoo: an Indigenous Concept of Validity and Some Implications” which was published in 2005 by the Institute of Spirituality in Asia as part of the book “Hiyang: Papers of the Colloquium on Research Methodologies in the Study of Spiritualities in the Philippines.” If you want to receive a copy of this paper, please email me (

Note that there are embedded links in this blog post. They show up as colored text. While pressing “Ctrl” click on any link to create a new tab to reach the websites pointed to. I acknowledge with thanks Wikimedia Commons for the images in this post.

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KM and Trans-Societal Megatrend #1

May 5, 2009

Trans-societal Megatrend #1 (see Q14- Naming trans-societal Megatrend #1: “towards yin”?) can be viewed from Ken Wilber’s framework, as in the following diagram.


When we were looking at “Tacit-Group Processes in KM” and “Gaia Consciousness”, we were in fact using Ken Wilber’s framework:

Expanded KM framework at the planetary level

When we were examining the global balance sheet of tangible and intangible assets (see “Towards a Global Balance Sheet”), we were also using Ken Wilber’s framework:


In fact, the expanded KM framework (see “Practical Exercise: Ingredients of Effective Group Action #15”) emerged from the simple observation that answers to “What are the ingredients of effective group action?” can be grouped in a way from where the commonly-accepted categories of intellectual capital or knowledge assets naturally emerge! Surprisingly, the grouping is consistent with Ken Wilber’s framework.


Which falls neatly into the categories of intellectual capital:


Now, what we are observing (see Q14- Naming trans-societal Megatrend #1: “towards yin”?) is that there is a global megatrend running across many sectors of society: corporate wealth creation, global economy, community development, educational psychology, national development, national security, attitudes to environment, psychology, international conflicts, religion and organizational dynamics. In other words, the megatrend is trans-societal. It can be summarized as:


What do you think?

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Q26- Information: another Force for Democratization (Trans-Societal Megatrend #2?)

May 3, 2009

What is common among these three events: (i) the Fall of Bastille in 1789, (ii) the invention of the microprocessor in 1971, and (iii) adoption in 1992 by 118 national governments of Agenda 21?


Here are more hints.

Can you discern what is common among these six trends?

  • Political: the break-up of the Soviet Union and democratization of Eastern Europe; replacement of military dictatorships with elected leaders in Latin America; fall of dictatorial regimes in Taiwan, South Korea, Philippines and Indonesia; end of apartheid in South Africa; recognition by Israel of the Palestinian Liberation Organization; “people power” revolutions in the Philippines, Chile, Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Indonesia and Serbia;
  • Economic: the shift from socialist to market economies in Russia, China, Mongolia, Vietnam, and Eastern Europe where decision making by a few central planners was replaced by choices of millions of consumers; global shift of wealth creation from industry to services thereby a power shift from capital and machineries to knowledge and knowledge workers; global shift of market value from intangible (=mostly knowledge) assets than from tangible assets;
  • Social: the growth of the voluntary, non-profit and non-government organizations, which mobilize civil society for causes such as human rights, rights of indigenous peoples, women’s rights, environmental protection, etc.; the adoption in the Rio Summit of 1992 of sustainable development as the new mainstream development paradigm; the growing adoption of corporate social responsibility and socially responsible investments;
  • Technological: satellite TV, personal computer and WAP-enabled mobile phones which are placing tremendous information, computing power and choice in the hands of individuals and households;
  • Religious: Protestant Reformation, Vatican II (“priesthood of the laity”), women in the priesthood, creation spirituality, personal spirituality replacing adherence to organized religions; and
  • Organizational: the flattening of organizational hierarchies, growth of horizontal networks and virtual communities, emergence of autonomous intrapreneurial work teams and post-industrial empowerment of knowledge workers.

If you said “democratization” (or any of its synonym), then YOU ARE RIGHT!

Democratization is a trans-societal megatrend because it cuts across political, economic, social, technological, religious and organizational domains.

The people side of this megatrend picked up speed over the last three centuries, while the technological side jump-started about half a century ago (see diagram below). Indeed, the information revolution is another force for democratization. Together, the telephone, the personal computer and the Internet is a powerful and empowering combination.


Do you think that it is reasonable to expect that this global megatrend — democratization — will continue to permeate all aspects of life and society throughout the world for the next centuries?

Photo credits to Wikimedia Commons for “The Storming of the Bastille” by Jean-Pierre Houël and the picture of a Hitachi HD6803P microprocessor; thanks to the UN Division for Sustainable Development for the cover page of Agenda 21.

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Q19- Negative(?) Metacapital #2: the Threat of a Nuclear War

March 17, 2009

Our research at CCLFI discovered that most successful community development projects are those that leverage on the intangible assets of the community. I introduced the more generic term “metacapital.”

When applied to communities, their metacapital can be positive or negative. I reproduce below a table from one of my KM conference papers. The entries in red italics are negative metacapitals – they can destroy value (market or social value) of the community or frustrate value creation that development projects seek to achieve.


In my judgement, some negative metacapitals are very serious. I indicated four of them above in bright red text. Do you agree with my choices?

If we translate these four at the global level, these great value destroyers are, starting with what I think are the most serious:

    1. Threat of global nuclear war
    2. Corrupt, egotistical or trigger-happy leaders
    3. Global environmental crisis
    4. Destructive syndicates: criminal, banking-financial, terroristic.

These are the common threats to wo/mankind. Compare this with the “15 Global Challenges” according to the Millennium Project.

What is your view?

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Q17- Losses in Community Assets: the Mother is Suckling(?) from the Baby!

March 4, 2009

In Q16 I quoted Gregory Bateson,

    “The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between the way nature works and the way man thinks.”

Accordingly, the next six blog posts Q17 to Q22 will apply the expanded KM framework to several major world problems:

    — Underdevelopment of communities and countries
    — Corruption
    — Threat of nuclear war
    — Sustainable development in local communities
    — Israel versus Hamas and Hezbollah
    — Global financial crisis.

Before we address our first problem of underdevelopment of communities and countries, let us apply the expanded KM framework to communities:

Assets of Communities

Assets of Communities

At the conference on “Knowledge Architectures for Development” sponsored by the Singapore Management University last March 2008, we presented a paper on “Knowledge for Poverty Alleviation” or KPA framework. This framework uses the expanded KM framework. We showed that successful anti-poverty projects can be explained better using this framework. We also showed how the KPA framework can be used in looking at the flow of assets to/from a typical rural town in the Philippines:

  • The brightest secondary school graduates, their valedictorians and salutatorians, migrate to Manila (loss of human capital);
  • Mineral and timber resources are harvested mostly by Manila-based or companies based in developed countries (loss of natural capital) but little of the economic proceeds return back to the community. The Regalian Doctrine (state ownership of public natural resources) continues to support and perpetuate this sucking of natural resources from small rural towns to Manila or to developed countries abroad;
  • A small fraction of taxes collected by the national government returns back to the community in terms of public services and infrastructures (drain in fiscal resources);
  • Local branches of Manila-based banks are more deposit-takers than business lenders (net flow of private savings to Manila);
  • Scientists and researchers from outside come in to study the geological, biological, sociological, cultural and other assets of the community, and publish the results outside or bring the geological, biological and cultural specimens for personal or commercial uses outside the community often without the knowledge and permission of local people (biopiracy, siphoning of sociological knowledge, stealing cultural artifacts, geological exploration without FPIC or “free, prior and informed consent”).
  • Manila residents who are more knowledgeable of government procedures obtain titles/patents to local land ahead of unwitting local people who had been in traditional possession of land for decades (“land grabbing”).

All these are happening all the time and in most rural Philippine communities, yet most people hardly notice it! (because they do not have the mental model, the expanded KM framework, which enables seeing). How fantastic and unbelievable that so many people cannot see!

Galtung is right. Manila is draining assets from rural Philippine communities! The mother is suckling from the baby!

What do you think?

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D11- Tangible versus Intangible Assets

December 14, 2008

I described in an earlier post (see: “KM is Not Enough!”) the factors that contribute to good performance or value creation:


We must note the following to better grasp the intricacies of tangible and intangible assets:

  • In the last two decades, market values of most corporations now far exceed their book values (for example, as of December 12, 2008 the market-to-book ratios of 215 industry groups listed in Yahoo! Finance averaged 4.458). This means that intangible assets are contributing more than tangible assets in creating value.
  • There are many evidences across various sectors and disciplines that intangible assets are more important than tangible assets in creating value (see previous post on “Intangibles: More Essential for Value Creation”).
  • International accounting standards recognize “intangible assets” as such if they are: non-physical, owned by the corporation, and can generate future economic benefits. Because of the ownership criterion, many corporations do not consider the human capital they hired and the intangibles that their personnel create (e.g. internally developed software and other structural capital) as assets to be entered in their books of account, although these definitely contribute to value creation by the corporation. In fact, training is often considered as a cost item, instead of a capital investment item. The intangible assets commonly recognized by accountants are: goodwill, brand, intellectual property rights like patents and copyrights, licenses/franchises and similar legal agreements, etc.
  • The intellectual capital accounting school of KM (e.g. Karl Erik Sveiby, Leif Edvinsson, Thomas Stewart, Patrick Sullivan, Baruch Lev, etc.) recognizes three categories of intellectual capital: human capital, structural capital and stakeholder capital (which includes customer capital proposed by Hubert Saint Onge) – which contribute to value creation but are missed by traditional accounting methods. These three categories are also recognized as “knowledge assets”. Note, however, that stakeholder capital is only the externally-facing part of Relationship Capital in the model diagrammed above (see next blogpost “D12- Relationship Capital versus Stakeholder Capital versus Consumer Capital”). Elements of intellectual capital are often not entered in books of accounts – a management gap which paved the way for various methods of “intellectual capital accounting”, Kaplan and Norton’s Balanced Scorecard, US Securities and Exchange Commission’s “colorized reports”, etc.
  • Knowledge assets are mainly intangible and often not entered in books of accounts. A common example of tangible knowledge assets is technology, which is a form of “embedded knowledge”. Examples of knowledge assets not always entered in book of accounts are trade secrets and internally developed patents (those that were not bought or sold by the organization).
  • To encompass the wide range of factors (including natural capital, social capital, indigenous knowledge, traditional or government-sanctioned access rights, cultural capital, etc.) that contribute to value creation, whether tangible or intangible, whether measured or not by accountants, we proposed the term “metacapital” (see the bottom of the previous post on “Valuation of intangible assets”).

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free counters

F8- Valuation of Intangible Assets

October 25, 2008

The private sector has a handy way of assigning market value to tangible and/or intangible assets: the capacity of the asset to generate earnings. Using the M&E (or monitoring & evaluation) framework proposed earlier, this is the same as saying that the value of 1 is the sum of all future 3 (after discounting):

Here are some examples

    1- Anticipation of future earnings: Buyers of stocks bid up the price of a stock when they believe its prospects for generating earnings in the future is very good. Stock buyers use indicators such as Price-Earnings Ratio for this purpose.

    2- Erosion of confidence: In contrast, if buyers of stocks lose confidence in a company’s ability to generate future earnings, they bid down the price of its stock. In the first two weeks of early October 2008, Dow Jones companies lost US$ 2.3 trillion (when their physical and other tangible assets stayed nearly the same). That is the market value of lost confidence (an intangible asset).

    3- Net present value: The value of the expertise of a consultant (an intangible asset) is the present value (assuming a reasonable discount rate) of the stream of her expected annual earnings (less necessary personal expenses) up to her retirement day. For example, the economic value of the expertise of a 45-year old consultant netting Euro 6,000 per month is nearly Euro 1 million at 5% annual discount rate (that is, a principal of Euro 1 million deposited in a bank account earning 5% yearly can support monthly withdrawals of Euro 6,000 up to age 65).

    4- Due diligence process: Acquiring a corporation not listed in the stock exchange (market value is unknown because its stocks are not traded) involves a process of estimating its fair market price by looking at both historical financial performance (tangible assets) and prospects for future growth based on brand, network of customers, growth of customer base, soundness of management policies, vulnerabilities to competition, etc. (all intangible assets).

    5- Premiums: Beachfront hotels adjust the rates of their sea-facing rooms higher than land-facing rooms. The premium is the extra price guests are willing to pay for the scenic view (an intangible asset).

Robert Kiyosaki (author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”) defines an asset as anything that yields regular income. Contrary to accounting practice, he claims a family car should not be treated as an asset because it generates regular expenses!

Here is an illustrative list of ordinary things, both tangible and intangible, that generate regular income. Following the view of Kiyosaki, we can call them “assets” or “capital”.

    • Natural capital: “I sell 2 truckloads of mango fruits yearly from my 20 mango trees.”
    • Technology + structural capital: “We patrol our Marine Protected Area against poachers because it regenerates our fish stock.”
    • Social capital: “When I was a child, my godfather gives me a cash gift every Christmas.”
    • Customer capital: “My customers keep coming back and boost my sales because they trust me.”
    • (Negative) psychological capital: “That cooperative has been losing money because of its corrupt manager.”
    • Human capital: “The Philippine economy gets $15 billion yearly remittances from its overseas workers.”
    • Public infrastructure: “The new road enables me to sell my farm products to the town center every week.”
    • Human capital + access to cultural assets: “My part-time job is French and Niponggo speaking tour guide in Bohol province.”
    • Cultural capital + indigenous crafts: “Our Moriones tradition boosts our tourist income every March.”
    • Financial capital: “The trust fund yields $10,000 every year.”
    • Access rights to natural resources through a formal agreement: “Our agreement with the government gave us usufruct rights over our ancestral domain.”
    • Traditional access rights: “I gather and sell firewood from the communal forest every Saturday.”
    • Indigenous knowledge: “Knowing the forest intimately enables the Ayta to survive there for months.”
    • Structural capital: “My PowerPoint presentations attract more clients to my workshops.”

At the conference on “Knowledge Architectures for Development” at the Singapore Management University last March 2008, we proposed the term “metacapital” as a generic term to encompass these various forms of capital (see “Knowledge for Poverty Alleviation: A Framework for Design and Evaluation of Development Projects for Low-Income Communities”).

In monitoring & evaluation (M&E) of KM for development, the issue then is: how do we translate this private sector approach to the development sector? Any ideas?

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