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Tierney speaks on creating ethical organizational cultures

Dr. William Tierney
Dr. William Tierney spoke to university administrators, faculty and staff about how an organization and its employees can work to create an environment that is ethical and successful on all levels.

How and why should a university create an ethical organizational culture? In a presentation at the University of North Georgia (UNG) on Nov. 17, Dr. William Tierney, associate dean for research and faculty affairs at University of Southern California – Rossier, outlined seven conditions that an organization should meet to create an effective culture of innovation.

  1. Develop a challenge and enable motivation
  2. Give employees freedom to control the means to an end
  3. Give employees a sense of ownership and autonomy
  4. Provide fiscal and temporal resources
  5. Create the conditions for teamwork
  6. Convey that work matters
  7. Maintain a culture of critique and criticism that also acknowledges what is going well

Tierney discussed how these components, along with elements like mission and leadership, merge to help an organization reach ultimate goals.

"This presentation is very timely, because our university is well positioned for these big ideas and opportunities," UNG President Bonita C. Jacobs said. "We have a great culture and sense of community, and the time is now for us to make these ideas happen; we are very grateful to Dr. Tierney for his insight."

The presentation by Tierney, who also is the co-director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education, was held on UNG's Dahlonega Campus and streamed to the Cumming, Gainesville and Oconee campuses. Tierney discussed how to embrace innovation – which he defined as the improvement of a new method, custom or device – while staying true to an organization's identity. He also advised recognizing barriers to innovation, like strategies that are based on what not to do, rather than what to do.

"Dr. Tierney's presentation is a fresh look at how to proactively create an ethical culture that is geared toward achieving that organization's short- and long-term goals," said Rose Procter, director of the BB&T Center for Ethical Business Leadership, a unit of UNG's Mike Cottrell College of Business. "By doing more than accepting change and instead driving toward innovation while staying true to mission and identity, an organization can set itself up for success on every level, from personal to institutional."

Tierney also discussed ways in which individuals can contribute to the culture.

"One of our goals should be to create an educational culture where we, as faculty, are talking about teaching amongst ourselves," Tierney said. "This could also include activities such as regularly sitting in on colleague's classes."

Tierney's presentation is one way in which UNG is supporting the University System of Georgia's "SPIRIT of USG" initiative to promote good stewardship and ethics. The SPIRIT of USG campaign is focused on Stewardship, Prevention, Integrity, Responsibility, Inspiration, and Trust, and it is one piece of a comprehensive Ethics and Compliance Program that includes ethics training, mandatory compliance training, assurance audits, consulting engagements and an ethics and compliance reporting hotline.

"UNG's institutional values – excellence, student-focus, integrity, engagement, and service – are closely aligned with the purpose of this USG initiative, and our university culture reinforces our role as responsible stewards of the resources and responsibilities with which we are entrusted," Jacobs said.

Tierney's presentation will be available for viewing on the BB&T Center for Ethical Business Leadership website in early December. A link will be posted here when the video is available.

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