Understanding Conflicts

Conflicts of commitment, conflicts of interest and perceived conflicts of interest that go unnoticed or are improperly managed threaten to impugn the reputation and integrity of the persons involved and, potentially, the University as a whole. They undermine the public’s confidence in the University’s and the UBC Person’s ability to pursue and disseminate knowledge, devoid of bias and personal interests. Without that public confidence, the effectiveness of the University as a public institution and of UBC Persons as intellectual leaders is diminished.

The process of disclosure and appropriate management of conflicts is not only important to preserve the integrity of the persons and processes involved, but also to ensure that the University and UBC Persons remain compliant with the requirements of the various agencies that provide research and other funding. In particular, requirements from the Tri-Council agencies, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and other bodies are in place, which require the University to create and implement policies and systems to identify and manage conflicts of interest in specific ways (for example, the requirement to file an annual conflict of interest report is a requirement of the Tri-Council agencies). Failure to comply with these requirements could lead to the loss of a substantial source of research funding.

Conflicts of Interest occur when an aspect of our private life influences or conflicts with the decisions we make on behalf of UBC, or appears to do so.

Although the term Conflict of Interest has come to have a negative connotation, the mere existence of a conflict of interest does not necessarily indicate wrongdoing.  In order to protect the integrity of the University, Conflicts of Interest must be disclosed and managed, if possible, with one’s assigned supervisor.

Conflicts of Commitment occur when university resources are used for non-university activities, or when a person is engaged in non-UBC activities.  University resources can include physical resources (equipment, office space or vehicles), information resources (like data or intellectual property) or human resources (like your working hours, the time of students or other employees).

Explicit permission from one’s supervisor must be secured for any non-university undertaking that introduces a noticeable demand on equipment, people, or performance.  Resources like non-public university information, brand, or IP cannot be used for non-university purposes.