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IPOR Conflict of Interest turns into a Conflicting Mess

Yesterday we wrote about a serious conflict of interest issue in the results of the survey conducted by International Republican Institute (IRI) which had outsourced the project to IPOR. In the declaration of the results IRI choose not to disclose that IPOR, the agency hired to conduct the survey in Pakistan had a financial conflict of Interest as it provided research / survey services to political parties like PML-N, PML-Q & MQM.

Since the story broke out yesterday and our blog post, IPOR has literally gone out on a limb to further dig itself into a deeper hole – instead of a carefully measured statement trying to clear up their name and show evidence that the survey was conducted in a truly “unbiased and non-politically inclined manner” the IPOR owners in panic simply choose to sneak in website modification of their client list to include PTI and chose to delete MQM, it now states

“IPOR have the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as its primary clients. Within the short span, IPOR has developed a diverse clients-base of political parties and politicians from PTI, PML-N, PML-Q, MQM

IPOR 30th Jan Update

The issue here, which I guess they too did not realize – is that no matter which party is listed as their clients, for them to conduct a political popularity survey on behalf of IRI while maintaining a financial relationship with the very same political parties is a definite conflict of interest which should have been disclosed as part of the IRI survey, anything not disclosed and hidden should be considered as a serious defect of the survey.

This accidental revelation damages the credibility of IRI – and now studies emerging from this organization will be viewed with microscopic care especially as a neutral unbiased polling agency in Pakistan.  IPOR will probably feel the pinch and it is possible IRI might sever relationships as well.  An argument could easily be made that IPOR has a business to run and needs these clients to make money but strategic calculations should have been made to weigh in the conflicting interests, which im sure any such agency would be well aware of.

The IRI results are interesting but quite suddenly their credibility has been seriously tarnished and IRI stands to be blamed for not declaring this conflict of interest by their hired agency

Conflict of Interest in IRI Surveys

Opinion polls are valid methods of gauging the sentiments of a community but a survey is then critically weighed as to its balance & authenticity when there is a Conflict of Interest specially of financial nature (def: Conflict of Interest occurs when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in another)

International Republican Institute (IRI) has been conducting political surveys in Pakistan for many years and have generally been accepted as an unbiased outlook into the political pulse beat of Pakistani. Conducting survey is a very carefully excersise, mere framing of a question can sway the responses but what hurts any study is when the surveyors do not declare their conflict of interest – IRI on its website does mention that it has outsourced the excersice to Institute for Public Opinion Research (IPOR) based in Islamabad.

IRI outsources Pakistan survey to IPOR

IRI having outsourced the survey work to a company in Islamabad failed to acknowledge anywhere in its disclaimer or methodology that IPOR has a conflict of interest since it caters to PML-N, PML-Q & MQM as business clients

IPOR have the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as its primary clients.  Within the short span, IPOR has developed a diverse clients-base of major political parties like PML-N, PML-Q, MQM

This revelation to any survey is a serious conflict of interest and should have been declared by IRI openly when presenting its research findings and should have not been subjected to “accidental revelation” which hence forth immediately puts this entire organization and their survey methodologies in serious doubts

Survey shows 52% people NOT favoring Army incursion in NWFP | 72% supported Peace Deal

iri-logoInternational Republican Institue which has since 2006 been conducting some valuable opinion polling in Pakistan has just recently released their tenth survey

You can download the charts and graphs using this link [PDF] | While the descriptive review can be read here [PDF]

The poll was conducted March 4-30, 2009 comprised of a randomly selected sample of 3,500 adult men and women from 216 rural and 134 urban locations in 51 districts in all four provinces of Pakistan. The margin of error for the national sample will not exceed + 1.66 percent

The 54 slide presentation is also worth a quick glance to understand the political undercurrents that have shaped up over the last three months, PPP and Asif Zardari on a popularity decline to 9% and Nawaz Sharif leads by a massive margin at 55%.

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