Conflict of interest in the research university: What are the relationships between individual behaviors and organizational risk?
Conflict of Interest (COI) and its correlate, conflict of commitment (COC) are situational dilemmas borne of the relationships between individual employee activities and the ostensible boundaries for proper activity as defined by governmental and institutional guidelines. The study framework derives from a new area of scholarship defined as research on research. The literature review demonstrates that a considerable work has been established in correlate fields of conflict management and the sociology of behavior, especially the sociology of behavior in the sciences. The problem statement focuses on the individual's perception of a conflict situation and whether it may be related to the type and amount of federal funding that the institution receives. Field study involved electronic dissemination of a survey instrument comprised of Likert-scaled story problems. The survey was directed at a population of administrative staff identified as research administrators housed at selected research intensive and extensive universities as defined by the Carnegie classification system. The target population was confined to six states comprising the Mid-Atlantic region of a professional research organization. Findings obtained from individual respondents at twenty-three (23) institutions were compiled and analyzed for significance. In the analysis, respondents' averaged Likert values were compared to the total amount of federal sponsored funding received at each respective institution, and the respective amounts of funding received by each from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Defense (DOD) funding entities, and all other federal funding sources not specifically delineated, defined as "other." Findings support a significant relationship between conflict of commitment values and total amount of funding as well as compared to the amount of DHHS funding. Other comparisons did not support significant findings, either when Likert values for COC items and other sources of funding were compared, or when COI data were compared against any funding source.