Conflicts of Interest: The Ethical Viewpoint

19 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2005

See all articles by Antonio Argandoña

Antonio Argandoña

University of Navarra - IESE Business School


Conflicts of interest are a very widespread ethical problem which, precisely for that reason, deserves special attention, both from a legal viewpoint and from the point of view of ethics applied to organizations and professions. In this paper we use the conceptual framework of agency theory to explain what constitutes a conflict of interest. This enables us to identify what causes conflicts of interest and analyze the ethical criteria to be applied to them and the solutions commonly proposed. Because our processing of information, our judgments and our decision making are subject to significant unconscious and unintended biases, the emphasis in this paper is on the conditions that an agent's decision must satisfy in a conflict of interest situation in order to be ethically correct.

Keywords: Agency theory, Agent, Conflict of interest, Corruption, Ethics of professions, Principal

Suggested Citation

Argandoña, Antonio, Conflicts of Interest: The Ethical Viewpoint. IESE Business School Working Paper No. 552, Available at SSRN: or

Antonio Argandoña (Contact Author)

University of Navarra - IESE Business School ( email )

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