Behavioural Science of Fraud and Cultural Audits with Dr Attracta Lagan

Behavioural Science of Fraud and Cultural Audits with Dr Attracta Lagan

Episode 27 - Shownotes

In this episode of YS Up Governance and Boards Podcast, 3YS Owls Governance Consultants, Ainslie Cunningham and Deb Anderson interview Dr. Attracta Lagan who is the Co-Principal at Managing Values Pty Ltd. We explore with Dr. Lagan the behavioural science of fraud and cultural audits, system 1 and system 2 thinking, the work of some Nobel Prize winners, including Richard Thaler and Elinor Ostrom and Zappo’s as an example of the importance of valuing culture within an organisation.

It's a cultural audit. So, it works on three levels. We would go in and we would do focus groups across each section in the organisation. We would do one to one interviews with the leadership team, because what we're trying to see is there a shared idea, shared success formula for the organisation, because believe it or not, when you go into the leadership team, people often assume that everyone thinks like me. And the first thing that we discover when we do a cultural audit at the top, is that not all the leaders are thinking in the same way.

So, you've got your cross section, with focus groups, you've got your individual one to ones, and then we do an electronic diagnostic through an organisation. So, the last organisation, we worked with had 135,000 employees. So, there's no way we were going to be able to do you know, focus groups with everyone.

So, we did focus groups a representative sample of the organisational size. We did the one to ones with Exco members, and then we sent in an electronic survey. And so, we're comparing those three sources of truth basically. And what you find often is that the view from the top is much rosier than the view from the bottom.

And then you've got a different view in the middle. And then what you do with the results is that you feed it back to each of those three groups. So, we're verifying. Is this your experience? What perhaps is leading you to this conclusion? What needs to happen for you to change your idea of how things happen here? We all suffer from 173 biases and shortcuts in the way we think this is what the science tells us.

So increasingly we're challenging people to think about the assumptions they bring to the table, because you're not coming into an organisation. You're not developing your strategy from square one. You're actually projecting onto your strategy, all your assumptions, people are inherently lazy, people aren't self-motivated, all those other things.

Dr. Attracta Lagan

Summary of episode
      • Behavioural science of fraud
      • Cultural audits
      • The impact of sets of eyes poster’s watching over trading rooms
      • System 1 and System 2 thinking by Daniel Kahneman – Recipient of 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
      • Behaviour science is a combination of psychology, sociology, evolutionary science
      • Richard Thaler’s nudge theory
      • The influence of social media on culture
      • The importance of measuring and benchmarking culture in an organisation
      • The science shows us that we're actually pro-social and people get a lot of satisfaction from being able to help their colleagues
About Dr. Attracta Lagan

Dr. Attracta Lagan is a leading Australian business ethicist who has worked extensively in the corporate and government areas in Australia and throughout Asia. She draws on the latest research from behaviour science to work alongside organisational leaders in designing preferred workplace cultures.

She has focused her attention on developing the social infrastructure necessary to embed risk management to enable governance and accountability to become a shared responsibility throughout an organisation.

Attracta has worked alongside the leaders of many major enterprises in Australia and Asia, helping Exco teams measure and benchmark culture, draft organisational values and engage all organisational members with their ethical accountabilities.

Attracta is the director of Managing Values Pty Ltd. She has a PhD in sociology and ecology, and has published a number of books and publications, including: Why Business Ethics Matters, 3D Ethics, Ethics of AI White Paper, Business Ethics White Paper, and over 40 articles in professional magazines.

If you would like to contact Dr. Attracta Lagan or read more information about her work visit

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3YS Owls are a corporate governance firm and incorporated legal practice who specialise in providing a variety of services and solutions across corporate governance, company secretary, board advisory, strategy, risk and business consulting. Contact the team today to see how we can assist you with your corporate governance framework, risk management framework or other company secretary services.


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