The culture of an organization and how it shapes an individual’s moral identity has always been of interest to Keith Anderson D’23. So much so, that he made it the topic of his doctoral dissertation.

Anderson, a graduate of Saint Mary’s Doctor of Business Administration program, started his career in chemistry, working as a pharmaceutical chemist. Because of his experience in project management, he was recruited into the IT field. After several years in IT, Anderson received an MBA in accounting and finance.

Wanting to continue his education, Anderson began looking at graduate programs, which brought him to Saint Mary’s.

“I was going into this program with an interest in the behavioral aspects of management and research, and I realized that this program had the flexibility where you could focus on the particular topics of each course but also pivot just a little bit and take on some the topics that I was interested in,” he said. “That’s part of what attracted me to the program.”

When it came time to select a dissertation topic, Anderson fused his interests and focused his research on whether workplace morals influence individual morality.

“So the idea was, if you have a stronger ethical culture, does that strengthen your moral identity and make you less likely to morally disengage or stay true to your moral framework,” he said.

Anderson focused mostly on project management teams due to their nature in an organization. Anderson noted that project managers work with employees from different departments in an organization, which all may have different subcultures and morals as it relates to their work. “Project teams are very temporary organizations,” he said.

“So it seems there isn’t potentially enough time for ethical culture to have an influence,” he said. “But what I’m trying to find is, if you’re trying to raise up the ethicality within an organization, especially when you have multiple subcultures and an overarching culture, do you focus on that at the organization level? Are you focusing at the individual level, trying to build them up? And it takes both. You can’t just have an ethical culture, and then everyone underneath that umbrella is now automatically ethical and moral in their conduct. So I think that just kind of shows there has to be ways to train or encourage individual ethicality, or morality, and then training in that.”

With defending his dissertation behind him, Anderson is looking to publish his research in academic journals. He also plans to continue his education and teach.

“I’d like to teach in an MBA program and focus on behavioral approach and organizational behavior,” he said.

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