Karl O'Connor at Winter Graduation with Hutton Prize for Excellence

Mediation research secures ethical prize

An award that encourages the next generation of young professionals to put ethical conduct at the forefront of business, government and the professions has been awarded to a postgraduate in Politics.

Karl O’Connor won this year’s Hutton Prize for Excellence for his PhD thesis which explored the way in which public officials in Belfast and Brussels mediate between hostile factions to deliver services to citizens in an equitable and humane way.

The prize is a gold medal awarded on an annual basis to a Politics, Law or Business undergraduate or postgraduate from the University of Exeter who is able to demonstrate, propose and promote high standards of ethical conduct for the tangible benefit of society or individuals. O'Connor's thesis was supervised by Professor Mick Dumper and put forward for the Hutton Prize.  The University judges were impressed by the power of the argument and the logic of the case, as well as the innovative use of methodology.  

Andrew Massey, Professor of Politics at the University of Exeter who also Chairs the awards committee, said:“The terms of the Hutton prize are such that any winner has to have produced work that promotes the cause of good governance in either the public or private sector or indeed both. But more than that, it also has to demonstrate a commitment to ethical behaviour and the pursuit of an ideal of justice.  Karl has fulfilled the criteria, but also produced a piece of work that in and of itself can add value to our understanding of conflict mediation and contributes to the ways in which societies and public officials can build best practice and good governance."

Mr William Hutton, a retired banker and businessman, now living in Guernsey, has generously agreed to support students in making a clear commitment to transparency and ethical practice. A gold medal containing one Troy ounce of gold is given for the best dissertation or best PhD that accords with the aim of promoting good governance. Mr Hutton, who is also a certified fraud examiner, is passionate about the need to teach, train, encourage and applaud those who seek to detect, deter, disrupt and discipline corporate wrongdoers at all levels. 

Karl O’Connor who graduated in January said:“I am most grateful to Professor Massey and the selection committee for awarding me the prize. Also, to Mr. Hutton for encouraging research into the area of ethics in governance, especially given the current politico-economic climate where the public’s perceptions of our political and bureaucratic leaders are being repeatedly challenged.

He added:“It is the responsibility of the disciplines of politics and public administration to respond to this public pressure in order to re-grow public confidence in our democratic system and those that make it work. Especially at a time of growing nationalist sentiment throughout our society, failure to address existing ethical and governance crises will lead to many well documented and anticipated consequences that will threaten the quality of life of all in society.”

The prize is awarded annually following a rigorous assessment by a committee who determine which dissertation best meets the ethics and good governance criteria.

Date: 5 February 2013

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