Monthly Archives: November 2012

Panel Discussion: Why Do Leaders Act Unethically?

The inaugural panel discussion for the UVA Leadership Working Group brought two thought-provoking speakers to the Batten School to talk about ethics and leadership. The Batten School’s Professor Benjamin Converse moderated the discussion. The first speaker was one of UVA’s own R. Edward Freeman, an Olsson Professor of Business Administration in the Darden School of Business. The second speaker was Max H. Bazerman, a Straus Professor of Business Administration in the Harvard Business School. Both speakers brought a different perspective of ethics – philosophical and psychological.

Professor Freeman questioned what defines the ethics we as individuals hold. For many, our philosophical beliefs shape how we define ethical behavior. He continued by pointing to the fact the ethics than an individual follows may allow him to sleep at night may indeed cause the rest of us nightmares. It is through these different lenses of ethical views that we judge leaders. However, we need to realize that many individuals can become enmeshed in situations that do not allow for ethical decisions. Therefore, the situation plays a greater role in ethical behavior than we ascribe to it.

Professor Bazerman brought us the ethics of leadership from the psychological standpoint discussed in Blind Spot: Why We Fail to Do What’s Right and What to Do about It, a book he co-authored with Ann E. Tenbrunsel. Bazerman agreed with Freeman that many people would characterize themselves as ethical. However, this characterization breaks down when individuals make decisions for “the business.” He called this ethical fading. Bazerman gave three organizational examples of how the strong desire to maintain the status quo can lead to initiatives that encourage unethical behavior through inaction. He believes that the field of psychology can be used to help shortcut the need to accept the status quo.

– Post by Ammy George, MPP’13

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UVA Investing Conference

The Batten Council generously sponsored my attendance at the 5th annual University of Virginia Investing Conference at the Darden School of Business on November 15th and 16th. The theme of this year’s conference was “After the Election: Realities, Opportunities, and Challenges for Investors.” Specific topics included the fiscal and monetary policies, the U.S. “fiscal cliff,” the state of the global economy, emerging markets, energy, and healthcare.

Speakers at the conference came from all sectors of the economy: investors in the private, educators and researchers from academia and non-profit think tanks, and policymakers and regulators. The conference provided a nonjudgmental platform for the diverse selection of speakers to express their opinions candidly on the current state, trends, and future outlook of both the domestic and global economy. Some speakers focused their opinions of the U.S. regulatory environment, while others offered their forecasts of the trends of the global economy. This ultimately benefited the attendees, including professors, investors, and students, at the conference because they were exposed to a wide variety of perspectives on the economic and policy arenas.

As a public policy student with a business background as well, it was a very interesting and enlightening experience to attend the conference. There is clearly a discernible tension between governmental regulations and financial investors in the free market. With this observation, I would like to share a few key takeaways from the conference:

1) Regulation is not necessarily a bad thing: as long as it is easily accessible to the target sectors, stakeholders may not be as opposed to it

2) Natural resources prices will continue to rise as they become scarcer due to population pressures; this will require more investment in exploration and lead to more global conflicts

3) Uncertainty in public policy will always be a risk for investors

– Blog Post by Katy Lai, MPP ‘13

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What are our Batten students thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving!

We, as Batten students, have a lot to be thankful for –  having a wonderful building all to our own, plenty of food to eat, and having amazing classmates, faculty and staff. We have asked a few Batten students  to reflect on what they are thankful for this holiday season and let us know. Here are are a few of their remarks:

“For the warm and welcoming Batten community who makes it such a joy to be in the program” – Kelly Anderson, Accel ‘13

“Joyful friends who are all so engaged and inspiring” – Elizabeth Brightwell, Accel ‘14

“The amazing admins and my amazing friends who have made me never want to leave UVA” – Addie Bryant, Post Grad ‘13

“Supportive Batten community” – Tara Clark, Post Grad ‘13

“I’m thankful for all my Batten friends that keep me company during late nights at Garrett Hall” – Alex Collins, Accel ‘14

“Having four, intelligent, and delightful roommates that put with my eccentricities and cooking habits…and who all happen to be Batten students” – Patrick Fitzsimmons, Accel ’13

“I am thankful for my family’s love and support that has allowed me to go back to school” – Ammy George, Post Grad ‘13

“I’m thankful for my awesome classmates!” – Kenneth Gillette, Post Grad ’14

“I am thankful for having the opportunity to do anything I want with my life and career and being surrounded by people who support me” – Wesley Malychev, Accel ‘14

“I am thankful for my classmates, sandwiches, and camping. In that order” – Maggie Ray, Post Grad ‘14

“The amazing class of 2014. Good job picking them Howard” – Natasha Reese, Post Grad ‘14

“I am thankful for Batten students who understand my woes, and for Stata – which has saved me hours of my life” – Ryan Singel, Accel ‘14

“Family, friends, health, and having the opportunity to be a Batten student” – Shiv Srikanth, Post Grad ‘14

“Thankful for the opportunity to help others and learn about myself in the process” – Kate Stanley, Post Grad ‘13

“ Friends who make even the bad days fun” – Allie Yudt, Post Grad ‘13

The Batten Blog wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and the best of luck with the rest of their semesters.

-Compiled by Aaron Chafetz

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A Student’s Perspective on the Election

Barack Obama’s victory this past Tuesday renewed in me feelings of hope and optimism that I was afraid might slip away. The two presidential candidates represented starkly different visions for America’s future: the embrace of America’s rich diversity on the one hand and its rejection on the other. The President’s reelection is a triumph over backwards-looking and intolerant positions that fundamentally contradict my vision of an America that lives up to its foundational principles.

Without a doubt, this campaign season was disheartening. It was an entirely cynical affair targeting people’s fears rather than uplifting their spirits. Both sides relied on vast stores of data to coldly penetrate the undecided American voters’ preferences, generating messages through focus groups and surveys, like designing a new Doritos flavor. In Virginia, a viscous deluge of negative advertisements engulfed us. We couldn’t even watch a YouTube video without being warned of the apocalyptic suffering that awaited us if the wrong candidate were elected. The worst part: even after ten seconds of these ads, you couldn’t tell which party it came from.

But still, I am reinvigorated. For me, the election marks the victory of a resilient progressivism that sprung to life in 2008. It is a victory over the idea that poverty is a self-inflicted condition. It is a victory over a party that wants to make it harder for poor people to vote. It is a victory over a nauseatingly hypocritical establishment that bemoans the state’s encroachment on personal liberty, yet callously treats women’s bodies as objects over which capricious state control is completely justified. It is a victory for the ideal of equal rights for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation.

Mitt Romney had a dream to lead America as a Republican president and thus was forced to genuflect before far right donors in order to have a fighting chance against the frighteningly efficient Obama-campaign apparatus. America watched as the primary and then the general election systematically drained Romney of every last one his moderate inclinations. I even thought I could see a dullness in his eyes toward the end of the campaign as more and more of his political soul evaporated. But perhaps that’s too generous. Maybe that’s how he always looked. Maybe he never had a political soul.

Regardless, Obama’s victory affirms that the Republican Party is out of touch with the American electorate. This election has revealed the cruel irony of a Republican political machine that has spent millions of dollars alienating the very people that it needs to win elections in the future. By spending exorbitant amounts of money exploiting racial divisions and parroting outdated right-wing adages, Republicans have frozen themselves in a political tradition that is irrelevant given America’s tectonic demographic shifts since the end of the 20th century. All that money could have elected Mitt Romney – but it didn’t, and to me, this is one of the most significant victories of all. The Tea Party’s radical values have diffused through the Republican Party like a teabag in hot water, and unless Republicans can stanch the Tea Party’s pernicious percolation, they will find themselves losing election after election no matter how much money they spend.

Enormous questions remain regarding the future. Will our political leaders abandon petty partisan quibbles and start providing real leadership on pressing issues? Will Obama, liberated from election constraints, have more latitude in pursuing a progressive agenda? Despite these questions, the election has demonstrated that many folks believe in the project we have before us in rebuilding America. It is a project in which success depends on the inclusion of all Americans: rich and poor, white and colored, straight and gay. It has reminded me of why I’m proud to be an American and why I applied to the Batten School in the first place.

– Post by Shivesh Puri, MPP’13

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Batten Election Night

After camping out all night in the Great Hall, many of the Batten students erupted in cheers with the victories of Barack Obama and Tim Kaine. Batten students were also very excited for the reelection of Gerry Connolly to the House of Representatives, father of current Batten student Caitlin Connolly.  At the peak of the night, Garrett was filled with over 60 students watching the election, pouring over their computers searching for the latest news (and trying to get the rest of their homework finished), and chowing down on some delicious snacks.  

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Thanks to everyone who came out to watch the election in the Great Hall!

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-Post by Aaron Chafetz

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1st Annual Batten Powder Puff Game

On a crisp, Friday afternoon four Batten cohorts united to play in the first ever Batten Powder Puff game.  While we had planned on a battle between the classes, we ended up dividing up between Accelerated and Post Grad students.  It was a mighty fight between the two teams. Both sides kept the fans involved with some great runs, some trick plays, and some stellar defense.   Although the Post Grads ended up winning 14-0, everyone out on the field did a great job.  A big thanks goes out to Scott and Byron who did a great job coaching  (and looking stylish while doing so), Kaitlin for designing some great shirts and helping put this event together, and all the fans who showed up to cheer on the women of Batten.

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Posted by Aaron Chafetz

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