Conflict Examples

Examples

What are some examples of a financial conflict of interest?

Financial conflicts of interest are those in which a financial interest has the potential to influence the impartial business judgment of an employee.  Some examples include:

  • Ownership by an employee or a family member of an interest in a vendor or potential vendor that does or may do business with the University when the employee has some control over the decision or recommendation of purchases from vendors offering the same services and/or products;
  • The acceptance of gifts (including travel, entertainment) particularly from a person who is seeking to obtain contractual or other business of financial arrangements with the University (e.g., a vendor who has interests that might be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the employee's duty). For further guidance, the following are examples of gifts/gratuities that would be considered acceptable:
  1. Unsolicited advertising or promotional material such as pens, scratch pads, and calendars.
  2. Occasional business lunches or food and refreshments of insignificant value are permissible. However, please note- A vendor taking you AND your family to dinner or other entertainment is NOT considered insignificant.
  3. Other items of nominal or minor value (e.g., a box of candy or fruitcake) that are merely tokens of appreciation and not related to any particular transaction.
  • A consulting relationship with a vendor or potential vendor by an employee who has some control over the decision or recommendation of purchases, either directly or through his/her reports, from vendors offering the same services and/or products.
What are some examples of a conflict of commitment?

Conflicts of commitment are those in which academic, professional and other obligations of an employee preclude the employee from spending the time required for her/his full-time commitment to the University.  Some examples include:

  • membership by an employee on multiple boards and board committees and/or service on advisory boards could take that employee away from her / his job at the University to the extent that the employee's full-time job obligations to the University are not met;
  • employment by another entity which is intended to be part-time, but which develops into a job which interferes with full-time duties at the University even if unrelated to the missions of Northern Arizona University (i.e. part-time real estate agent)
What are some examples of a conflict resulting from the employment of or business relationship with a relative?

Conflicts resulting from the employment of or business relationship with a relative are those for which the supervisor/faculty's judgment for managing the relationship may be impaired or may be perceived as a conflict.  Some examples include:

  • Employment of a relative in a direct reporting relationship where the supervisor/faculty determines performance evaluations, rate of pay or promotion eligibility (nepotism).
  • Recommending the purchase of goods or services from a company for which the relative receives direct financial benefit, including salary, commission or profit sharing (conflict of interest).

Illustrative Examples of Conflict of Interest

Financial interests

Examples of situations in which financial declarations of conflicts of interest are made:

  • Staff of the University serving on other bodies, e.g. research council committees, grant review panels, editorial boards etc, will typically be asked by those parties to declare financial interests.
  • Authors submitting a manuscript must disclose any 'significant financial interest' or other relationship with the manufacturers of any commercial products or providers of commercial services discussed in the manuscript and any financial supporters of the research. The intent of such disclosures is not to prevent an author with a significant financial or other relationship from publishing a paper, but rather to provide readers with information upon which to make their own judgments.
Student supervision and teaching

Examples of situations that give rise to conflicts of interest in relation to student supervision and teaching include:

  • Faculty or staff with a close personal or familial relationship with a student who may also be involved in decisions about that student's admission, supervision or academic progress, or the award of any studentships, prizes or other grants to the student.
  • A member of staff who is in a position to judge the quality of a student's work or to evaluate a student in any way holds or proposes to take a financial stake or hold a formal position in any student-run, -owned or -controlled commercial venture whilst that student is enrolled at the University.
  • A postgraduate research student receiving support from a company in which his/her academic supervisor has a financial interest or position.
Other examples of possible conflicts of interest
  • Participating in the appointment, hiring, promotion, supervision or evaluation of a person with whom the staff member has a close personal relationship.
  • A researcher has a financial interest in the licensee (or proposed licensee) of University intellectual property.
  • A staff member takes part in the negotiation of a contract between the University and a company, where the staff member or his or her family or a close personal friend has a financial or non-financial interest (e.g. a directorship) in that company.
  • An academic who has a senior editorial position with a commercial journal is also on a University library committee that recommends journal subscriptions.
  • An academic chairs a University committee which is to consider the allocation of funds to be shared between a number of colleges, including his own.
  • A relative or close friend reports to a supervisor who affects their job responsibilities, pay, and promotions.
  • A male manager dates a female employee who reports to him.
  • A female manager dates a male employee who reports to her.
  • An officer or employee participates in the decision to hire his brother-in-law to perform services at the University.
  • An employee starts a company that provides similar services to similar clients as those of her full time employer.
  • An employee who is a member of a company employee selection team fails to disclose that he is related to a job candidate whom the company team is considering for a position.
  • An employee works part time in the evening for a company that performs a service that is related to the employee's full-time/regular employer.
  • An employee borrows a piece of equipment from their employer to do personal work or work for their outside business.
Administrative Decisions/Funding
  • As an officer or director of an outside entity, an officer of the University engages in a decision affecting revenues to the University that employs him/her. 
  • An officer or employee takes administrative action within the University which is beneficial to a business in which he/she has a financial interest.
Procurements
  • An officer or employee hires a consultant who is a relative.
  • An officer or employee sole sources a purchase to a company owned by his/her brother/sister, or to one in which he/she has a financial interest or policy determining position, of the University of he/she is an member.
  • A director, officer or employee engages in a decision at the University affecting a contract between the University and a company for which the individual serves as an outside director.
Consulting/Business Interests
  • A director, officer or employee makes referrals to a business in which that individual, a member of his/her family or an associated entity has a financial interest.
  • A director, officer or employee has a business relationship with companies that do business with the University.
Use of Services, Materials and Equipment
  • An officer or employee uses University facilities or resources in furthurance of private consulting or outside business activities.
  • An employee engages in research testing involving an invention to which he/she shares intellectual rights, or in which the employee, or immediate family members, have a financial or business interest.
  • A University member conducts University supervised research for an outside business in which he/she, a member of his/her family, or an associated entity holds a stock or similar ownership interest.  In the realm of patient care, threats to professionalism and questions about conflicts of interest may arise in several situations, some of which involve pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology companies and some of which do not. This chapter focuses on physician financial relationships with industry that usually are not intrinsic to medical practice and that can be avoided. These relationships create conflicts of interest when physicians 
  • Accept company gifts of various kinds, including meals and drug samples;
  • Act as promotional speakers or writers on behalf of companies; or
  • Have a financial interest in a medical product company whose products they prescribe, use, or recommend
Representative Examples of Potential Conflicts of Interest in Research

The following conflicts of interest situations are provided for example purposes only. These examples are not binding and are meant to be illustrative. Many conflicts of interest situations may be managed based on facts and circumstances if, and only when, disclosed in a timely, transparent and proper manner.

  • Submitting a proposal, or initiating work without a proposal to conduct research or testing, funded by a company in which one holds a significant financial interest.
  • Disseminating research results in a particular way to deliberately avoid publishing adverse research findings for commercial reasons or personal gain. 
  • Holding supervisory or educational responsibility for graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, or support/academic staff working on a research project that could materially affect a company or other entity in which the faculty member holds a significant financial interest.
  • Consulting and conducting research for a drug company that involves clinical testing of a drug manufactured by that company while the researcher is testing the drug in clinical trials and failing to disclose the consulting relationship with the drug manufacturer.
  • Participating in the appointment, hiring, promotion, supervision or evaluation of a person with whom the staff member has a close personal relationship.
  • Involving a student on a research project that receives support from a company in which the student or supervisor has a financial interest or significant position.
  • Engaging in testing that involves an invention to which the researcher shares intellectual rights, or in which the employee, or immediate family members have a financial or business interest.
  • Participating in a selection committee and failing to disclose that an applicant under consideration is either a relative, close friend or a business partner. 
  • Providing paid consulting services to a NAU vendor or supplier and failing to disclose such relationships. 
  • Taking administrative action which is beneficial to a business in which one has a financial interest for a personal gain.
  • Hiring a consultant who is a relative or a close friend without going through proper approval processes.
  • Using NAU facilities or resources in promoting private consulting or outside business activities.