Category Archives: Research

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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October Faculty Spotlight: New Professor, Chloe Gibbs

Professor Chloe Gibbs


Name: Chloe Gibbs

Position: Assistant Professor of Public Policy & Education

Academic history: Ph.D., University of Chicago (2012)

M.P.P., University of Michigan (2003)

B.A., University of Notre Dame (2000)

Tell us something about yourself!

I grew up in Kentucky Wildcat country, and went to Notre Dame, so I am a big college sports fan. It seemed easy to incorporate the ‘Hoos and root for them too until Notre Dame joined the ACC recently, so now they will play each other!

What were the driving factors in your decision to join the Batten School faculty?

Having gone to policy schools for both my M.P.P. and Ph.D., I loved the idea of being in this new, up-and-coming policy school at a phenomenal institution. I wanted to teach M.P.P. students, and also felt like my research fit well here, especially with connections to Curry and the ed policy center. When I visited, I really enjoyed talking to the students, thought the faculty with whom I met would be great colleagues, and confirmed my expectations that this would be a wonderful place to be.

What’s your teaching philosophy?

I am still a bit in awe of the fact that I get to teach and work with M.P.P. students. I never would have imagined it 10 years ago, working away on my M.P.P. degree at the Ford School at Michigan. I think about the professors who taught me to think differently about a problem or helped me uncover the questions I was interested in pursuing and answering, or encouraged me to apply a different lens, consider an alternative, or reframe an argument, and I hope I can help students in those same ways. I also remember my post-M.P.P. job search—and those of many of my students in recent years—and want to equip students with skills that give them a competitive advantage in that search and in their careers. If I can help my students acquire and use the tools that will make them strong policy analysts, ready to tackle—critically and thoughtfully—the challenges and issues about which they are so passionate and knowledgeable, then I am happy.

Tell us about your research.

I study the impact and cost-effectiveness of early childhood interventions. I am interested in how we can best intervene—through policy and programs—in children’s lives to address early disadvantages. When kids arrive at school, where we have the most access and perhaps best opportunity to provide services and supports, they already exhibit sizable achievement gaps by socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity. I hope we can uncover, through strong social science research, the most effective ways to rectify those disparities early and set children on a path to success in school and beyond. And, in a world of constrained resources, I also think a lot about how we choose optimally interventions and their timing. On a related note, I am also very interested in the long-term impact of early childhood program participation, and how effects in adulthood relate to immediate impact.

Who inspires you (and what kind of impact do you hope to make with your research)?

I have been very fortunate to have amazing mentors who are involved and influential in important policy discussions, conduct high-quality research, are super smart, and are genuinely nice, wonderful people. I certainly aspire to their examples in my career. And, I know how this is going to sound, but I am most inspired by my two daughters. I want to give them the best opportunities and experiences possible, and I also see every day the amazing process of child development that is relevant to my research. It highlights for me the stark disparities in access to resources (even simple things we take for granted like books), high-quality child care, and preschool opportunities. I think we can get to a better place in terms of how we invest equitably and efficiently in children’s early lives, but we need good evidence to do that.

What are you looking forward to most with the Batten School?

I am really excited to be at a relatively new policy school that is growing and establishing its reputation. I look forward to contributing to that development and seeing it take form. It is fun to be a part of this endeavor with a fantastic faculty, talented, knowledgeable administrators, and wonderful students to boot!

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IPA Projects: Post-Grad Class

“Our groups is focusing on the role of government in commerce and agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa. We are specifically analyzing what improvements can be made to increase income generating projects for a World Bank report.” – Addie Bryant 

“Our client is the World Bank. We are making recommendations for  community income-generating projects that could be implemented to rural Lebanon communities.” – Kelly Connors

“Our group is developing a strategy for MathCounts to grow its program.  In collaboration with two other teams, we plan to provide a cohesive plan that enables MathCounts to better market its program to non-traditional participants like girls and non-mathletes, increase it’s operating budget, and grow the number of schools participating in MathCounts.” – Jonathan Snipes

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IPA Projects: Accelerated Class

Second semester at Batten is defined by the IPA project, and this year’s accelerated class is working with a variety of clients on domestic issues mainly related to Virginia state policy.

Four groups are examining various aspects of the U.S. unemployment system and how the system should be reformed to more appropriately integrate the needs of a service-oriented and high technology U.S. workforce.  Two groups are considering reformations of Virginia’s UI system and the federal system as a whole. One group is looking at federal job training programs and how they could be integrated into the UI system, and the final group is examining how the UI system could be incorporated with other safety net programs like Medicaid and SNAP.

“During tough economic times, the UI system basically acts as a safety net — it gives people who have lost their jobs for no fault of their own some money to help pay for their basic needs as they are search for a new job….I personally really enjoy just being able to become (almost) fully informed about an issue that is so important to millions of Americans, let alone an issue that I had rarely thought about before this project.” – Evan Vahouny (Acc. ’13)

The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) is working with one student group to study how effective year-round schools are and if this model would be appropriate for Virginia. The Virginia Partnership for Out-of-School Time is also sponsoring a project on funding for afterschool and summer programs.

Two groups are working with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation on projects about Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay programmatic milestones for 2012-2013 and the current policies and funding concerning the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“We’re excited about the project because the CBF has said that they will definitely use our report in their advocacy strategy, and that we’re looking into an key area that needs further research.” – Kaitlin Brennan (Acc. ’13)

The final two groups are working on independent projects with the Virginia Municipal League. One project is assessing how state budget cuts have affected K-12 education in Virginia and what other models of school funding should be considered in Virginia. The other project is examining how public-private partnerships can benefit transportation infrastructure in Virginia.

Post by Mary Drach

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Write for VPR!



DEADLINE: Friday, March 2nd, 11pm

The Virginia Policy Review is currently seeking submissions for its Spring 2012 issue.  This edition will address energy and environmental policy concerns including but not limited to the ethics, health, economic, and political implications of energy. The most relevant issues in this area are uranium mining, fracking, and unconventional fossil fuel extraction. This will be the main focus of the issue, however, we will include submissions about relevant policy issues of regional, domestic or international importance.

We are asking members of the University community to submit their policy papers. These may be papers that have been previously written and you would like to adapt. We accept submissions from students and professors. We also encourage professors to recommend excellent student papers. 

All submissions are due by March 3, 11 pm.  Please send your submissions to Please email the Editor-in-Chief, Borna Kazerooni if you have any questions.

Thank you, and we look forward to reading and reviewing your submissions to the Virginia Policy Review.

Requirements for Submission

Research Article: These articles are typically longer and reflect some kind of research in a particular policy area of interest.  It can be an empirical analysis of a government program or perhaps a case study of some kind.  They can take a position, make recommendations or suggest specific improvements to a particular program or policy. Length may vary, but they must be no longer than 7000 words.  Please also include an abstract no longer than 250 words and a short biography on each author no longer than 100 words.Comment/Op-ed:  These entries are generally shorter and are intended to reflect different perspectives on a particular issue.  These articles should take a position on a particular topic.  They must be no longer than 2000 words.  Please include a short biography no longer than 100 words on each author(s).

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