Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 39, Issue 1–2, pp 67–74 | Cite as

Charitable Conflicts of Interest

  • Chris MacDonald
  • Michael McDonald
  • Wayne Norman
Article

Abstract

This paper looks at conflicts of interest in the not-for-profit sector. It examines the nature of conflicts of interest and why they are of ethical concern, and then focuses on the way not-for-profit organisations are especially prone to and vulnerable to conflict-of-interest scandals. Conflicts of interest corrode trust; and stakeholder trust (particularly from donors) is the lifeblood of most charities. We focus on some specific challenges faced by charitable organisations providing funding for scientific (usually medical) research, and examine a case study involving such an organisation. One of the principal problems for charities of this kind is that they often distribute their funds within a relatively small research community (defined by the boundaries of a small region, like an American state or Spanish Autonomous region, or a small country), and it often proves difficult to find high-level researchers within the jurisdiction to adjudicate impartially the research grants. We suggest and recommend options appropriate for our case study and for many other organisations in similar situations.

business ethics charities conflict of interest non-profits organisational ethics trust 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Boatright, J. R.: 1993, ‘Conflict of Interest: A Response to Michael Davis’, Business & Professional Ethics Journal 12(4), 43–46.Google Scholar
  2. Cohen, D. and L. Prusak: 2001, In Good Company: How Social Capital Makes Organisations Work (Harvard Business School Press, Cambridge, MA).Google Scholar
  3. Davis, M.: 1982, ‘Conflict of Interest’, Business & Professional Ethics Journal 1(4), 17–27.Google Scholar
  4. Davis, M.: 1993, ‘Conflict of Interest Revisited’, Business & Professional Ethics Journal 12(4), 21–41.Google Scholar
  5. Fram, E. H. and J. Withers: 1999, ‘Conflict of Interest in the Board Room?’ Nonprofit World 17(2), 19–21.Google Scholar
  6. Frank, R.: 1996, ‘Can Socially Responsible Firms Survive in a Competitive Environment’, in David Messick and Ann Tenbrunsel (eds.), Codes of Conduct: Behavioral Research into Business Ethics (Russell Sage Foundation), pp. 86–103.Google Scholar
  7. Gunz, S. and J. McCutcheon: 1991, ‘Some Unresolved Ethical Issues in Auditing’, Journal of Business Ethics 10, 777–785.Google Scholar
  8. Lemmens, T. and P. Singer: 1998, ‘Conflict of Interest in Research, Education and Patient Care’, Canadian Medical Association Journal 159, 960–965.Google Scholar
  9. Luebke, N. R.: 1987, ‘Conflict of Interest as a Moral Category’, Business & Professional Ethics Journal 6(1), 66–81.Google Scholar
  10. MacDonald, C.: 1998, ‘Trust in the Market Place: An Exploratory Computer Simulation’, Business & Professional Ethics Journal 16(1–3), 225–238.Google Scholar
  11. McDowell, B.: 1990, ‘The Professional's Dilemma: Choosing Between Service and Success’, Business & Professional Ethics Journal 9(1&2), 35–52.Google Scholar
  12. Michalos, A.: 1999, ‘The Loyal Agent's Argument’, in D. C. Poff and W. J. Waluchow (eds.), Business Ethics in Canada, 3rd edn. (Prentice Hall, Scarborough, ON).Google Scholar
  13. O'Connell, L. J.: 1996, ‘Recognizing Conflict of Interest’, Healthcare Executive (May/June), 48–49.Google Scholar
  14. Poff, D.: 1999, ‘The Loyal Agent's Argument Revisited’, in D. C. Poff and W. J. Waluchow (eds.), Business Ethics in Canada, 3rd edn. (Prentice Hall, Scarborough, ON).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris MacDonald
    • 1
  • Michael McDonald
    • 2
  • Wayne Norman
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyDalhousie UniversityCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Applied EthicsUniversity of British ColumbiaCanada
  3. 3.Centre for Applied EthicsUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

Personalised recommendations