Media for the Organizational Scholar

For those that know me, in addition to my interests in group and collaboration, I really like movies. I studied film in college and I made a few short and feature length films while I was an undergrad. Though there are occasional films or TV that pique the group collaboration interests of mine, there are fewer than I would like. I even get the idea sometimes that I someone should write the great biopic on Herbert Simon, Jim March, Daniel Wegner, or some other influential figure in my own life.

I just wanted to talk about a few things that I like, that contain some interesting things about organizational behavior and group collaboration.

The obvious ones:

Political thrillers often have over the top situations that don't always get across the right message about how to use power effectively in conversation. The first season of House of Cards (US), however, does a great job of showing individuals focusing on diminishing or amplifying their power based on the situation that they are in. Chapter 3 is a great example of this with Frank Underwood doing a good job of translating the Hard power we see him use in other parts of the season into soft power when he's in a discussion with a family who's daughter has been killed. I have used this example in class (though I likely will not anymore after the allegations against Kevin Spacey's conduct) especially as a way to think about using power effectively.

Some less obvious ones (to be updated):

There are those movies that have a strange pull on you that you can't always decide if they are good or bad. One of those for me is Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Though it was widely panned and did poorly in the box office, there are some wonderful bits of filmmaking in this movie and an awesome soundtrack (though the soundtrack really doesn't fit the movie in my opinion). In an early scene, there is a discussion at this future's version of the UN where Dr. Cid provides an argument against using a giant space gun that Gen. Hein has had constructed. There is a wonderful dynamic in this short scene were the scientists are almost dismissed as cranks though the general is also seen as brash. No firm conclusions are reached and everyone loses. This is really the inciting incident leading to Hein attempting to force military intervention and Cid and Aki Ross now on a necessary timetable to complete their project (see my older blog post for more details). Authority is fluid, arguments backed by data are questioned, and motivations are unclear. This type of scene is in many movies but they really nail it here.