Minnesota Public Radio: Social Purpose Capitalism Net Present Value (NPV) / MBA Resources

Introduction to Net Present Value (NPV) - What is Net Present Value (NPV) ? How it impacts financial decisions regarding project management?

NPV solution for Minnesota Public Radio: Social Purpose Capitalism case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Minnesota Public Radio: Social Purpose Capitalism case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by James A. Phills, Victoria Chang. The Minnesota Public Radio: Social Purpose Capitalism (referred as “Kling Mpr” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Organizational Development. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Marketing, Social enterprise.

The net present value (NPV) of an investment proposal is the present value of the proposal’s net cash flows less the proposal’s initial cash outflow. If a project’s NPV is greater than or equal to zero, the project should be accepted.

NPV = Present Value of Future Cash Flows LESS Project’s Initial Investment

Case Description of Minnesota Public Radio: Social Purpose Capitalism Case Study

Headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) started as a small public station that 26-year-old William Kling established at St. John's Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota in 1967. By 2004, Kling's venture had grown into a regional network of 38 stations, serving more than five million people. The organization had more than 83,000 members and boasted the highest percentage of listener membership of any community-supported public radio network in the nation. Much of MPR's growth and success had been built through what Kling referred to as "social purpose capitalism...the application of the traditional principles of capitalism...to a nonprofit organization [to] benefit the public sector." Kling's first foray into "social purpose capitalism" was in 1981 when Garrison Keillor, the popular host of "A Prairie Home Companion," wanted to reward loyal listeners with a free poster of "Powdermilk Biscuits," an allusion to a fictitious sponsor that was part of a Prairie Home gag. The giveaway drew over 50,000 responses, much more than originally anticipated, costing $60,000. To avert financial ruin, Kling printed an offer for other products that listeners could buy on the back of the poster. Netting $15,000 to $20,000 from that poster convinced Kling that there were opportunities to secure MPR's financial situation. Kling created a number of for-profit ventures to support and build the MPR empire. By 2004, however, MPR and Kling were the subject of unrelenting public criticism. Ostensibly, the issue was MPR's unwillingness to disclose Kling's compensation from the private for-profit enterprises spawned by MPR. After disclosing this information, Kling became the subject of condemnation amid accusations of conflicts of interest and nepotism. Knowledgeable observers, however, saw the real concern to be fear that a public benefit organization was being driven by profit-making priorities.

Case Authors : James A. Phills, Victoria Chang

Topic : Organizational Development

Related Areas : Marketing, Social enterprise

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Minnesota Public Radio: Social Purpose Capitalism Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10023362) -10023362 - -
Year 1 3472357 -6551005 3472357 0.9434 3275808
Year 2 3972557 -2578448 7444914 0.89 3535562
Year 3 3973960 1395512 11418874 0.8396 3336613
Year 4 3243248 4638760 14662122 0.7921 2568956
TOTAL 14662122 12716940

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2693578

In isolation the NPV number doesn't mean much but put in right context then it is one of the best method to evaluate project returns. In this article we will cover -

Different methods of capital budgeting

What is NPV & Formula of NPV,
How it is calculated,
How to use NPV number for project evaluation, and
Scenario Planning given risks and management priorities.

Capital Budgeting Approaches

Methods of Capital Budgeting

There are four types of capital budgeting techniques that are widely used in the corporate world –

1. Profitability Index
2. Internal Rate of Return
3. Net Present Value
4. Payback Period

Apart from the Payback period method which is an additive method, rest of the methods are based on Discounted Cash Flow technique. Even though cash flow can be calculated based on the nature of the project, for the simplicity of the article we are assuming that all the expected cash flows are realized at the end of the year.

Discounted Cash Flow approaches provide a more objective basis for evaluating and selecting investment projects. They take into consideration both –

1. Magnitude of both incoming and outgoing cash flows – Projects can be capital intensive, time intensive, or both. Kling Mpr shareholders have preference for diversified projects investment rather than prospective high income from a single capital intensive project.
2. Timing of the expected cash flows – stockholders of Kling Mpr have higher preference for cash returns over 4-5 years rather than 10-15 years given the nature of the volatility in the industry.

Formula and Steps to Calculate Net Present Value (NPV) of Minnesota Public Radio: Social Purpose Capitalism

NPV = Net Cash In Flowt1 / (1+r)t1 + Net Cash In Flowt2 / (1+r)t2 + … Net Cash In Flowtn / (1+r)tn
Less Net Cash Out Flowt0 / (1+r)t0

Where t = time period, in this case year 1, year 2 and so on.
r = discount rate or return that could be earned using other safe proposition such as fixed deposit or treasury bond rate. Net Cash In Flow – What the firm will get each year.
Net Cash Out Flow – What the firm needs to invest initially in the project.

Step 1 – Understand the nature of the project and calculate cash flow for each year.
Step 2 – Discount those cash flow based on the discount rate.
Step 3 – Add all the discounted cash flow.
Step 4 – Selection of the project

Why Organizational Development Managers need to know Financial Tools such as Net Present Value (NPV)?

In our daily workplace we often come across people and colleagues who are just focused on their core competency and targets they have to deliver. For example marketing managers at Kling Mpr often design programs whose objective is to drive brand awareness and customer reach. But how that 30 point increase in brand awareness or 10 point increase in customer touch points will result into shareholders’ value is not specified.

To overcome such scenarios managers at Kling Mpr needs to not only know the financial aspect of project management but also needs to have tools to integrate them into part of the project development and monitoring plan.

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 15%

After working through various assumptions we reached a conclusion that risk is far higher than 6%. In a reasonably stable industry with weak competition - 15% discount rate can be a good benchmark.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 15 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10023362) -10023362 - -
Year 1 3472357 -6551005 3472357 0.8696 3019441
Year 2 3972557 -2578448 7444914 0.7561 3003824
Year 3 3973960 1395512 11418874 0.6575 2612943
Year 4 3243248 4638760 14662122 0.5718 1854338
TOTAL 10490545

The Net NPV after 4 years is 467183

(10490545 - 10023362 )

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 20%

If the risk component is high in the industry then we should go for a higher hurdle rate / discount rate of 20%.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 20 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10023362) -10023362 - -
Year 1 3472357 -6551005 3472357 0.8333 2893631
Year 2 3972557 -2578448 7444914 0.6944 2758720
Year 3 3973960 1395512 11418874 0.5787 2299745
Year 4 3243248 4638760 14662122 0.4823 1564066
TOTAL 9516163

The Net NPV after 4 years is -507199

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9516163 - 10023362 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Kling Mpr to discount cash flow at lower discount rates such as 15%.

Acceptance Criteria of a Project based on NPV

Simplest Approach – If the investment project of Kling Mpr has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Kling Mpr can ACCEPT the project, otherwise they can reject the project. This means that project will deliver higher returns over the period of time than any alternate investment strategy.

In theory if the required rate of return or discount rate is chosen correctly by finance managers at Kling Mpr, then the stock price of the Kling Mpr should change by same amount of the NPV. In real world we know that share price also reflects various other factors that can be related to both macro and micro environment.

In the same vein – accepting the project with zero NPV should result in stagnant share price. Finance managers use discount rates as a measure of risk components in the project execution process.

Sensitivity Analysis

Project selection is often a far more complex decision than just choosing it based on the NPV number. Finance managers at Kling Mpr should conduct a sensitivity analysis to better understand not only the inherent risk of the projects but also how those risks can be either factored in or mitigated during the project execution. Sensitivity analysis helps in –

What can impact the cash flow of the project.

What are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

What will be a multi year spillover effect of various taxation regulations.

What are the uncertainties surrounding the project Initial Cash Outlay (ICO’s). ICO’s often have several different components such as land, machinery, building, and other equipment.

Some of the assumptions while using the Discounted Cash Flow Methods –

Projects are assumed to be Mutually Exclusive – This is seldom the came in modern day giant organizations where projects are often inter-related and rejecting a project solely based on NPV can result in sunk cost from a related project.

Independent projects have independent cash flows – As explained in the marketing project – though the project may look independent but in reality it is not as the brand awareness project can be closely associated with the spending on sales promotions and product specific advertising.

References & Further Readings

James A. Phills, Victoria Chang (2018), "Minnesota Public Radio: Social Purpose Capitalism Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.