Conflicts and non-scientific misconduct

Do you require conflict support? Or would you like to report non-scientific misconduct?

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Problems and conflicts can arise in any working environment. It is important to address these situations and find lasting solutions. In a conflict situation, it is helpful and important to get support early on so that things do not escalate.

The questions below are intended to help whistleblowers clarify for themselves whether they wish to make a complaint or report to the MPG.

If you would like to make a report to the Max Planck Society, please answer the following questions:

  • What would you like to report?
  • Why should the MPG know about it?
  • Why do you want to report it?​

If you have any questions or concerns regarding a conflict of interest (either concerning yourself or a third-party), please contact the Risk management and compliance officer, Sven Friese: ​. A conflict of interest arises if the interests of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft collide with private interests, thereby creating the appearance of bias.

Conflicts can also arise due to misconduct in the non-scientific area.

What is non-scientific misconduct?

Misconduct is defined as behaviour contrary to law, contract, or regulations that affects the MPG and/or its employees in their professional relationship. It is of a non-scientific nature when the situation reported entirely or predominantly arises in the non-scientific area.

Who can I turn to?

The Max-Planck-Gesellschaft has established two central reporting points to receive complaints on alleged non-scientific misconduct:​

  • the Staff Unit Internal Investigations in the Audit Department of the General Administration
  • the external law firm​

I. Internal investigations staff unit

Who can contact the staff unit?

It is available to whistleblowers as the central reporting office of the MPG.

What does the staff unit do?

It is responsible for conducting internal investigations into information on suspected non-scientific misconduct by MPG employees and submits a report (with recommendations) to the body authorized to make the relevant decisions.

How can I report an indication of non-scientific misconduct?

If you have information about misconduct or a well-founded suspicion that misconduct has occurred and would like to report it, please contact the staff unit (see entry on the right).

Reports to the Internal Investigations Staff Unit are subject to a particular confidentiality. The extent of this confidentiality should always be clarified at the beginning of the conversation.

What happens to my report?

An internal investigation is carried out to determine whether there has been any misconduct, including serious breaches of duty or standards. The staff unit first reports suspicions of non-scientific misconduct. Then employees and/or third parties are interviewed, and documents and files are analysed.

The work of the staff unit is based on the principles of confidentiality, independence, objectivity, and procedural compliance.

In cases of superior significance - namely, if Scientific Members are affected or if the MPG's reputation is endangered - the Staff Unit is responsible for the centralised internal investigation under the overall responsibility of the Vice President responsible for the procedure (by section). In all other cases, the staff unit will hand over the investigation to the individual MPIs following a decision by the respective vice president.

II. External law firm

Who can contact the external law firm?

Victims of bullying, harassment, sexual assault, or discrimination are now also able to consult the law firm of Wirsing Hass Zoller.

The lawyers Dr Christine Dross and Dr Thomas Müller represent the law firm as lawyers of trust.

What does the law firm do?

The lawyers of trust will will accept your information or complaints and give an assessment whether these are likely to be legally relevant.

How can I contact the law firm?

The trusted lawyers can be contacted by telephone or email. They are also available for personal discussions in German or English (see entry on the right).

What happens to my report?

It is up to you to decide whether and to whom your report will be passed on. The lawyers of trust are obliged to maintain absolute secrecy (if you so choose) and will not disclose any information.

Are there costs involved with contacting the law firm?

No. This option is available to all employees free of charge.

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