Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Conflict of Interest

As faculty members of a premier institute, we get invited to be members of several committees. Sometimes, we have to evaluate others.

Consider a theoretical example. Suppose, I am asked to be a member of an AICTE inspection team which is going to evaluate an engineering college. After I have accepted to be the member, if I were to call up the principal of this college (and they, by now, know that I am on the inspection team), and offer consultancy on how to prepare for AICTE team visit. I am sure this will be considered as an obvious case of conflict of interest.

I have been offered consultancy assignments by organizations who have a large project in my area of expertise (and I am sure I can provide value for money). But I also know that if I was not in the review team, they probably would not have asked. Hence I have passed up all such opportunities.

But I realized this week that there are faculty members who don't see any problem in such an arrangement. Hopefully, such people are in a very small minority.