Conflict of Interest

When a clash between a professional or public obligation and one’s private interests occurs, the situation is referred to as a conflict of interest.

Conflicts of interest jeopardize an individual’s ability to act ethically by interfering with his or her capacity to exercise good judgment. This interference may lead to willful negligence of the individual’s professional or public obligation for the sake of private interest, or to bias (both conscious and unconscious bias).

A distinction can be made between actual conflicts of interest and potential conflicts of interest, though it is often difficult to know whether a potential conflict of interest will actually influence a decision. For this reason, many companies and institutions have policies that aim to minimize the possibility of conflicts of interest and require full disclose of potential conflicts of interest from their employees.

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