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« Halliburton Hit With New SEC Subpoena | Main | Investigation Of SFO Casts New Shadow »
Friday
Feb172012

Global Conflict Policies That Work

The great Conflict of Interest Blog just published a couple of posts by Lori Tansey Martens, left, that are outstanding.

She's founder and president of the International Business Ethics Institute. In the posts, she looks at what happens when companies put in place global conflict of interest policies. 

The biggest problem, she says, is that one size doesn't fit all. There can be big cultural differences between regions and countries.

Here's some real wisdom, for example, about Asia:

In many Asian cultures, business has been conducted for centuries by family members with other family members, so the idea of “arms-length” makes little sense to many employees.  In fact, over 70% of businesses in Asia are family-owned, and even many of the large multinational corporations throughout Southeast Asia are connected through extended family ties.

Multinational companies, she warns, shouldn't try to ban all perceived conflicts of interests. Situations arise that are unique and ambiguous. And policies meant to cover them need to be flexible enough to accommodate reality.

It's best, she says, to focus not on blanket prohibitions but on disclosure. That imbeds flexibility but still achieves the COI-related objectives.

Our thanks to the Conflict of Interest Blog for publishing these terrific posts by Lori Tansey Martens.

Part I is here and Part II here.

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