Consistent with the innovative environment at NC State University, the institution encourages and promotes the transfer of knowledge through relationships with outside businesses, scholarly publications and the creation and licensing of intellectual property. It is always important for the University to properly steward public trust in our ability to preserve and protect knowledge, know-how and truth. In the entrepreneurial environment of NC State University’s research enterprise, however, commitment to objectivity becomes critically important and requires the establishment of a carefully controlled and monitored process of ensuring that we meet, and where possible exceed this fundamental compact. With the assistance of federal and state regulations, NC State University has implemented the Conflicts of Interest and Commitment (COIC) policy that assists employees who are on the forefront of what has come to be known as “innovation in action.”

Examples of relationships that require disclosure and a management plan include:

Having a significant financial interest in a firm that:

  1. sponsors projects at the University, or
  2. hires students or other university employees, or,
  3. sells merchandise or services to the university, or,
  4. Authoring textbooks or other course materials required for purchase by NC State students, or,
  5. Refer to the regulation for a more comprehensive list of examples

When a real or perceived conflict of interest is disclosed a management plan articulating how to mitigate the risks of impaired objectivity must be created.  These plans are developed by the disclosing employee in close collaboration and under the guidance of the department/unit head and the Associate Dean for Research or comparable official within the college or unit.

Management plans establish the operating parameters to be followed when a disclosing party engages an external business or entity in which the employee has a significant financial interest.  Such external engagements include sponsorship of the employee’s university research, outreach or extension activities or certain other programmatic transactions.  For example, consider a member of the faculty that starts a small business related to the research activities of her University appointment.  If that faculty member’s company desires to contract with the University for research, outreach or extension activities then a management plan is required.

Management plans may also be required when employees who are authors of textbooks (a highly desirable scenario for the University) or other course materials require students enrolled in courses for which the employee-author is the instructor of record to purchase that text for the course.  Naturally, the employee-author would select his or her own textbook, as it was likely written for the subject course.  Disclosure of employee-authored, textbooks and course materials required for purchase by students mitigates risks of perceived impropriety.  Additionally, management plans must be developed to determine how the University will make decisions about the procurement of employee-owned intellectual property (IP), what the royalty arrangements will be and how objectivity will be assured regarding development and use of the licensed IP.

Issues to address in Management Plans [1]

[1] Adapted from NCURA – Reference Email of 09/06/2007 – from NCURATV, June 2007, “COI – How to Spot and Manage It”