An institutional conflict of interest (ICOI) is a situation in which an organization’s financial interests may compromise its ability to act in an impartial and objective manner. A common example of an institutional conflict of interest is when an industry sponsor pays for the construction of a new research laboratory at the organization they are sponsoring.
This type of conflict of interest can be dangerous for an organization because it creates an incentive for the organization to put the sponsor’s interests ahead of their own. It is also an example of how financial relationships can have an effect on decisions made by organizations, even when the relationship is not directly related to the decision.
Another example of an institutional conflict of interest is when the organization has an equity interest in a company involved in research, or an ownership interest in intellectual property related to the research. This type of conflict can create an incentive for the organization to favor the company it has an equity interest in when making decisions about the research. This type of conflict can also lead to bias, as the organization may be more likely to favor the company they have an equity interest in when making decisions.
Conflicts of interest can be a serious problem for organizations, as they can lead to bias and can ultimately lead to decisions that are not in the best interests of the organization. An organization needs to be aware of these situations and properly manage them to ensure that their decisions are not influenced by financial interests.
The University of Utah has established a policy for managing institutional conflicts of interest, which can be found here. The policy outlines how the University will identify and manage potential conflicts of interest, as well as provides guidance on how to report and address these matters.
As a general guideline, organizations should always strive to act in the best interests of the organization. They should also strive to ensure that any financial relationships they may have do not influence their decisions. By following these guidelines, organizations can help ensure that they are making unbiased decisions that are in the best interests of the organization.