Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Conflict of interest: the bad is always there?

  1. Jun 6, 2010 #1
    Hey all,

    So I'm relatively new to the professional life. The question of "conflict of interest" is bothering me a lot lately as I'm not sure about how the words are defined, and which kind of interest is looked down upon. For example, I was thinking about this case, which I observe in many different ways around:

    Let's say for example someone did find a potentially excellent partner for the place they work for to work with on some projects. However, they are also interested in benefiting the other company, and may not mind if they got friendships/linking with them for their long-term career. Would that be considered a conflict of interest

    It is definitely a win-win for both parties, but it can be seen as a 'personal' deal for the person too, as they want to know more people, try to expand their career ..etc.

    Also, if someone knows a good resource with comprehensive examples on what is and what is not a conflict of interest, I would really appreciate it!

    Thanks in advance for help!

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 6, 2010 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2017 Award

    Having friends in another company is not a conflict of interest. Directing work toward their company because you want to benefit a friend is a conflict of interest. Your duty to provide a resource (a potential partner) is being influenced by your desire to help your friend. Making friends with someone after they have been hired is not a conflict of interest because there is no pre-existing relationship. In general making a hiring or contract decision based on friendships or a desire to benefit a specific company is a conflict of interest.
  4. Jun 9, 2010 #3
    Thanks for your help and clarification, Borg.

    I want to extend the question in other dimensions: Is is a conflict of interest while someone is promoting his own interest as well as the entity he's working for, since there are more than one motive, and while may result in "identical" actions in the short run, it may not be in the long run. I want to give an example to clarify my point:

    An American congressman who is taking care of interests of the people in his district. It is his job to do so, and they are happy about it. At the same time, he wants to use the achievements to back up his potentially future campaign for the Senate. During his service as congressman, both him and the people are benefiting. However, if he became a Senator the district may lose his congressional services, while they may benefit somehow from the his service in the Senate. However, the congress and the senate are not one in the same entity. As in, if a congressman becomes a senators its not a 'promotion', but rather working for a different office/entity. Will this be considered as a conflict of interest?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook