Conflict of interest

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A conflict of interest (COI) is a situation in which a person or organization is involved in multiple interests, financial or otherwise, and serving one interest could involve working against another. Typically, this relates to situations in which the personal interest of an individual or organization might adversely affect a duty owed to make decisions for the benefit of a third party.


  • Conflict of interest is a situation in which an internal auditor, who is in a position of trust, has a competing professional or personal interest. Such competing interests can make it difficult to fulfill his or her duties impartially. A conflict of interest exists even if no unethical or improper act results. A conflict of interest can create an appearance of impropriety that can undermine confidence in the internal auditor, the internal audit activity, and the profession. A conflict of interest could impair an individual's ability to perform his or her duties and responsibilities objectively.
  • COMPROMISE, n. Such an adjustment of conflicting interests as gives each adversary the satisfaction of thinking he has got what he ought not to have, and is deprived of nothing except what was justly his due.
  • Lack of regulation is as bad as over-regulation. Although I believe governments should not regulate free market choices, I also believe they should regulate to protect investors against conflict of interests and negligence by investment bankers. Regulations should also ensure full transparency and disclosures and should effectively penalize violators.
  • The prophylactic measures that are taken to prevent conflict of interest in public affairs are considered irrelevant in science precisely because scientists view themselves as participating in a higher calling that that of public officials—namely, the pursuit of objective knowledge. While senior public officials (elected or appointed) are prohibited from managing their portfolios during their tenure in office, scientists with patents and equity in companies that fund their research are at most simply asked to disclose their interests.
    • Sheldon Krimsky, Science in the Private Interest: Has the Lure of Profits Corrupted Biomedical Research? (2003), p. 130.
  • War seems to be part of the history of humanity. As we look at the situation of our planet in the past, countries, regions and even villages were economically independent of one another. Under those circumstances, the destruction of our enemy might have been a victory for us. There was a relevance to violence and war. However, today we are so interdependent that the concept of war has become out dated. When we face problems or disagreements today, we have to arrive at solutions through dialogue. Dialogue is the only appropriate method. One-sided victory is no longer relevant. We must work to resolve conflicts in a spirit of reconciliation and always keep in mind the interests of others. We cannot destroy our neighbors! We cannot ignore their interests! Doing so would ultimately cause us to suffer. I therefore think that the concept of violence is now unsuitable. Nonviolence is the appropriate method.
  • I have drawn the great moral lesson, perhaps the only one of any practical value, to avoid those situations of life which bring our duties into conflict with our interests, and which show us our own advantage in the misfortune of others; for it is certain that, in such situations, however sincere our love of virtue, we must, sooner or later, inevitably grow weak without perceiving it, and become unjust and wicked in act, without having ceased to be just and good in our hearts.
  • Those laws, being forged for universal application, are in perpetual conflict with personal interest, just as personal interest is always in contradiction with the general interest. Good for society, our laws are very bad for the individuals whereof it is composed; for, if they one time protect the individual, they hinder, trouble, fetter him for three quarters of his life.
A conflict of interest may be defined as a set of conditions in which professional judgement of a primary interest, such as making decisions on the merits of legislation tends to be unduly influenced by a secondary interest, such as a personal financial gain. - Dennis F. Thomson.
  • A conflict of interest may be defined as a set of conditions in which professional judgement of a primary interest, such as making decisions on the merits of legislation tends to be unduly influenced by a secondary interest, such as a personal financial gain.
  • Rules on conflict of interest usually focus on financial gain, not because it is more pernicious than other secondary interests but because its benefits are more fungible and its value more objective. P.55
  • The very idea of conflict of interest in legislative ethics appears paradoxical. To avoid a conflict of interest, it might seem, legislators must not do any anything in their official role that would further own financial interests. But as James Madison emphasized legislators should share ‘a communion of interests’ with their constituents.
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