I do research on ethical challenges faced by program evaluators. Evaluators study the effectiveness of programs and policies in fields as varied as health, education, social services, criminal justice, employment, and community development. Because these programs have major implications for the well-being and vested interests of a wide range of individuals and groups, ethical problems can occur at any stage of an evaluation project, from the entry/contracting phase at the beginning to utilization of results at the end. How should an evaluator respond, for example, when pressured to misrepresent the findings of an evaluation? “Doing the right thing” in evaluation is often difficult, sometimes because it’s not clear what the “right thing to do” is, and sometimes because doing the right thing puts one’s own welfare at risk.
Michael Morris has been a faculty member at the University of New Haven (UNH) since 1978, where he serves as Professor and Director of the Master's Program in Community Psychology . Michael also consults part-time with a variety of human-service, non-profit, and public-sector organizations; his consulting specialties are organizational development and the enhancement of collaborative relationships between organizations.
The professional activity Michael enjoys most is teaching, in large part because at UNH he has the opportunity to teach the subjects he finds most interesting and challenging: organizational behavior, consultation, community psychology, and program evaluation. These areas relate directly to the professional work Michael does outside of UNH. Michael has received the University's Award for Excellence in Teaching on two occasions (1985 and 2008); this is the professional accomplishment of which he is most proud.
Michael's major research interest is the ethical challenges faced by program evaluators in their work. In 1993 he published the first national study of such challenges among professional evaluators, a task that required more content analysis of survey data by Michael and his graduate assistant (a co-author of the study) than any two people should have to conduct in a lifetime. This study is frequently cited in publications dealing with ethical issues in evaluation. Michael has served as Associate Editor of the American Journal of Evaluation (2010-2013) and as a member of the Editorial Advisory Boards of New Directions for Evaluation. His third book, Evaluation Ethics for Best Practice: Cases and Commentaries, was published in 2008 by Guilford Press.
Feel free to read no further if you abhor the "personal tidbits" section of these descriptions. Michael enjoys playing racquetball (when he plays well), movies (when they're good), writing humorous essays (when he has the time), performing stand-up comedy (when other people find him funny), and reading long novels (when they are not on a Kindle). He loves living in New Haven because it has magnificent pizza, world-class theater, it gets less snow than Boston, and it provides convenient TV and radio access to three Major League baseball teams.
Ph.D., Community-Social Psychology, Boston College
Published Books and Articles
Morris, M., & Clark, B. (2013). You want me to do what? Evaluators and the pressure to misrepresent findings. American Journal of Evaluation, 34, 57-70.
Morris, M. (Ed.) (2008). Evaluation Ethics for Best Practice: Cases and Commentaries. New York: Guilford Press.