Protecting the foundation, building the future: Perceptions and expectations for managing conflicts in academic research

Timothy J Fournier, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Research universities focus significant resources on identifying and managing faculty conflicts of interest and commitment in response to increasing federal oversight and concern about declining public confidence. After more than 10 years of federal regulation requiring disclosure of conflicts that could be perceived to influence certain research programs, these universities continue to struggle with finding ways to evaluate the success of these programs. The literature has extensively examined the effects of conflicts on individual faculty behavior and defined types of relationships that are likely to lead to conflicts. However, little work has explored the extent to which plans for identifying and managing faculty conflicts of interest are effective at managing risks, affect faculty recruiting and retention, and impact faculty and/or administrator attitudes about conducting research. One of the primary challenges in evaluating effectiveness has been the variety of attitudes and perceptions held by individuals involved in the conflicts management process. The research analyzes the attitudes of faculty and administrators involved in the conflicts management process at three large, private research universities through the use of qualitative interviews. The interviews are supplemented by a brief survey of the characteristics of conflicts management programs at public and private research universities. Rather than suggesting a complete prohibition of relationships between faculty and private industry, the framework suggests that the conflicts management process consider seven core values that help balance individual and institutional considerations. The research further suggests that research institutions open a dialogue with research faculty to help educate faculty about the importance of the conflicts management process in protecting the researcher from allegations of bias and in supporting fundamental academic values.

Subject Area

Higher education

Recommended Citation

Fournier, Timothy J, "Protecting the foundation, building the future: Perceptions and expectations for managing conflicts in academic research" (2006). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3209973.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3209973

Share

COinS