Asee peer logo

It's All There: Teaching Complex Management Content Using Feature Films

Download Paper |


2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

New Trends in Engineering Management Education

Tagged Division

Engineering Management

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.820.1 - 13.820.8



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Zbigniew Pasek University of Windsor

visit author page

Zbigniew J. Pasek is an Associate Professor in the Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering Department at the University of Windsor. His interests include industrial automation, informal engineering education and engineering applications in health care.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

It’s All There: Teaching Complex Management Content Using Feature Films


We all learn in a number of different ways and the learning process can be facilitated through the use of a variety of viewpoints and media. Thus to reach everyone, a variety of instructional methods is used, each leaving a different “mental footprint.” The “cone of experience” indicates that people generally remember only about 10% of what they read, but 30% of what they see. In teaching complex management-related issues in a graduate engineering class, some of the content can be difficult to describe analytically because it involves a variety of human action. Coverage of such material can be greatly enhanced by the use of video material to provide illustrative examples of some practical situations and settings. Feature films can be used as a basis for homework assignments or as background material for in-class discussions. The paper presents a number of films that can be used for such analysis, indicating corresponding content and other resources. Issues covered include creativity, entrepreneurship, organizational behavior, ethics, and others. The common ways of framing the film-based material to build relevant class experience are also outlined.


When Edmund Phelps (Nobel 2006 in economics) recognized cinema as one of his learning tools, he probably was not expecting to inspire Italian management consultants to write a book how watching movies can help managers4. The story, after the book was published last year, made news in the Wall Street Journal15, indicating that perhaps watching feature films can be a good antidote for management books loaded with advice that is hard to apply practically.

Such an idea, however, is not entirely new5. Both feature and documentary films have been used as teaching and learning resources in a variety of disciplines, including psychiatry18, history13, anthropology and cultural studies2, law3, medicine1, management4,6,7,10,11 and perhaps others. Film as a teaching medium has found wide use in corporate training programs. However, the exclusive focus of the training films on issues related to a corporate agenda limits their appeal – they are typically a rather dull product. Also delivery of the film-based training in a corporate screening session with scripted and time-controlled discussion can easily turn off the viewers and have an effect contrary to the intended one.

Recent fast proliferation of film as a teaching tool is partially due to progress in media technology and growing availability of a large body of films. Movies available for rental from video stores currently include over 25,000 titles and include broad genres of filmmaking in a variety of formats.

Educators have explored the use of film medium to support teaching since the 1970s, with the advent of the first portable video recording devices. Most recent transition from VHS tapes to DVD and on-going transition to digital formats available on the internet have further accelerated this process.

Pasek, Z. (2008, June), It's All There: Teaching Complex Management Content Using Feature Films Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3879

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015