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ResourcesHuman Research EthicsThe price of deceiving your future employees (Papers: Mark Israel et al 2016)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

The price of deceiving your future employees (Papers: Mark Israel et al 2016)


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Excerpt “Those of us who grew up reading Mark Twain will remember the story of The Prince and the Pauper. In Twain’s book, the future English King Edward VI swaps places with a poor boy in order to move unrecognised among his future subjects. The book has spawned a variety of different versions. The latest enactment may be in a New Zealand university.

According to the New Zealand Herald, the preferred candidate for the position of vice-chancellor at Lincoln University interviewed 20 staff while posing as a visiting academic preparing a report. During the interviews, the newspaper claims that Prof. Robin Pollard collected data about concerns academics had about the university, only revealing his identity by email after the interviews had been completed. The project did not seek ethics review from either the visiting professor’s home university in the United Kingdom or Lincoln University but may have been approved by Lincoln University’s Council. Ethics review is mandatory for all research conducted on university students or staff in New Zealand. University codes of ethics deem them vulnerable or exploitable persons given the conflict of interest and unequal power relations.

If it is true that Prof. Pollard conducted research in this way, such a scheme must have seemed attractive to the incoming university boss. Academic leaders may find themselves isolated in the top position and there are significant advantages in opening up multiple lines of communication with your colleagues throughout an organisation. Academics who might not divulge their thoughts to senior management might reveal their views to a visiting academic making the use of deception seductively attractive in these circumstances.”

Israel, M, Poata Smith, B & Tolich, M (2016) The price of deceiving your future employees. Tertiary Update: Weekly News from The New Zealand Tertiary Education Union – Te Hautū Kahurangi O Aotearoa 2 March

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