Interest or conflict of interest refers to a situation where someone multiple interests, which such an influence on each other, that the integrity of one or the other interests is in jeopardy. With the resignation of the next prominent liberal politician, the next chapter is written about the lack of integrity in public administration.
Integrity comes to the norms and values of a person or organization and the extent to which it holds. The interpretation of these values is in time effected by change. Where once ideological or charitable motives prove to be the basis for the actions of drivers, this has shifted towards more economic motives. Integrity in public administration is under the influence of the growing market thinking landed on an inclined plane. Economic thinking is in itself a limited perspective of society, also it leads to an increasing self interest which at any time prevails. The fraud cases in housing cooperatives show that when the economic interests prevail over the general interests of society, integrity is the first victim.
Conflicts of interest begins where integrity acts as an secondary character. The person in question is no longer acting in the general interest, but creates its own interest. No longer are things like transparency, honesty and sincerity the prime motives of the driver, but the interests of his own interest that is intertwined with the interests of the people and organizations within its network. Within this network, the act is often seen as integer because they have maintain their own certain values. One of those values is another awarding contracts. The old boys network at its best. However, the society is not well served. The reply of liberal politician that perception is changing, endorses this blindness in drivers. As his mails show, the continuation of certain projects which are network benefits, proved to be more important than the value it has for society. The politican had already lost its integrity because he had sunk deep within his network and his actions attuned to the importance of that network.
It is these networks that stimulate self interest, where it is for integer directors sometimes difficult to escape. You can completely ignore the networks and thus not engage you, but the chances that you accomplished something become very small. As such networks function as self-sustaining organisms within our society. And even if a director acts upon the highest integrity standards within a network. The fact that he is part of it loads all the appearance of entanglement on himself. A senator at the Senate does not work a full time job and as a result also has a number of other positions held in public or private institutions, will soon get into trouble. The appearance has been immediately against the senator. It is a form of quilty by association, which influences the trust civilants have in their directors.
Ideals, standards and quality are put aside and make way for towering growth ambitions. In health care, education, cooperatives. No longer is the quality of services and products tailored to the needs of society, but towards the importance of the network. And when it goes awry are accountable consciousness and moral authority empty concepts. The director knows nothing, leave with a nice bonus and leave the bill to society. This moral crisis feeds thereby the distrust of citizens towards the elites and give other populist parties stick to hit. This decline has besides social effects also negative economic consequences.
Anna Bernasek states in her book ‘The economics of Integrity, that integrity is of very great economic value. Our existence as human beings, our society and our economy is based on trust. People trust in daily life that the people they meet mean them no harm. Otherwise we would all be paranoid. The economy revolves around trust. Whoever takes any questions regarding the safety milk or vegetables in the supermarket? And that is especially true when it comes to things like healthcare. You just puts your health in the hands of a person who does not know You, but purely on the basis of his training and titular. The creating of wealth and prosperity is based on the dare to enter into relationships based on trust. At the moment that networks active in society that do act open and gain trustworthy relationship with their environment, then these are ultimately harmful to society and the economy.
Directors can only restore trust with society as they actually restore integrity. Open, honest and responsible, so that they regain their moral authority. It starts with the way in which directors are appointed and evaluated. The position of the director in the society must be clear, access to administrative functions should no longer depend on the old boys network or narrow minded selection requirements the sustain the closed network. Organizations serve their objectives in line with their social function, in which citizens are actively involved as a stakeholder.
This also means that disclosure of information is an essential condition. Something which former Minister Donner had great difficulty with. Openness hinders the Government, but ensures that the quality and comprehensiveness of information increases, which is necessary for good communication with society. The probability of conflict of interest decreases as the sense of responsibility among directors, pressured by transparency. Therefore, directors not have to worry about appearances, if they act with integrity and conform to generally accepted norms and values. Thus we not only create social value by increasing confidence, but we unlock a much greater economic potential, which, within the confines of the old boys network, cannot be achieved.