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Peer Review

Speaking Truth to Management Does it Help to be Crazy?



Overall Rating:

3.5 stars
Content Quality: 3 stars
Effectiveness: 3.5 stars
Ease of Use: 3.75 stars
Reviewed: Jun 25, 2012 by Business Editorial Board
Overview: Using a clip from the 1999 movie Office Space, the practice of telling the absolute truth in a work performance review situation is illustrated. Supplements to the video clip include user contributed suggested learning objectives, discussion questions, textbooks & related resources, a transcript of the clip, related media and a place to exchange teaching ideas. This would be applicable to undergraduate/graduate business and public administration courses.
Learning Goals: Students will be introduced to concepts of employee motivation and engagement. The student will be able to discuss workplace performance misbehavior and motivation.
Target Student Population: The primary audience recommended would be certain students in the lower division (possibly general education, this depends on the course) and upper division as long as they are specifically related to organizational behavior, HR or management courses that cover topics related to this video. The preferred population would be students who have already had an exposure to general management.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Depending on how this video clip is used it is possible a prerequisite would not be required but this reviewer would strongly recommended that the student have a basic management course before viewing this video. A basic knowledge of HR and organizational behavior and general management would be appropriate prior to viewing.
Type of Material: This is a short video derived from a 1999 movie called Office Space. A message on the screen before the video starts says it has an R rating. A Learning object repository
Recommended Uses: This short clip could be used to demonstrate how one part of downsizing is accomplished (evaluating jobs, evaluating current performance and employees histories of performance). It could be also used to demonstrate an example of an unmotivated employees and potential causes of this as well as what problems this creates in the organization. Another use could be how the career of this individual would be impacted, how HR and managers need to manage people who are not motivated, and areas dealing with performance and retention in general. This could be shown in conjunction with specific, related topic areas in other courses. This could be a role play, providing students an opportunity to be a consultant and an employee, this could also be a lesson on organizational politics related to appropriateness of comments.
Technical Requirements: Tested on Mozilla Firefox v 9.0.1 and Windows Explorer 8, 9.; need sound card and speakers to hear audio; Adobe Flash Player required (tested with v11.0)

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 3 stars
Strengths: This is a realistic interview, something that would be likely to occur in a conference room with consultants. The conversation could be typical. Another strength is that it is possible students could relate to situations the employee is describing. The video clip portrays the concepts of negative reinforcement and motivation. The website allows for user-defined applications & supplemental material so the instructor can customize the module.
Concerns: Must watch advertisement before viewing video Restricted to adult audiences Free registration and login required to access learning objectives, discussion questions, and supplementary resources. There is a word in the video that is probably not appropriate in a classroom. There is also another film clip about Napoleon Dynamite (2004) that follows directly after that has nothing to do with this interview. There is no indication in the film clip that the worker is in a state of hypnotic relaxation; this is only in the description. The content could be useful in very specific situations but the film clip itself lacks structure and as such would have to have very specific goals, outcomes and assignment requirements before this could be useful with undergraduate students.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3.5 stars
Strengths: It is useful in specifically related courses or in general courses such as management because downsizing, motivation, performance and other aspects of organizational behavior as well as HR. Employee motivation continues to be an important topic for employees, supervisors and organizations. Raises critical issues through entertaining video that can stimulate discussion. Learning objectives and discussion questions can be obtained from the website or individually developed which is useful in creating assignments
Concerns: Must be used along with supplementary discussion and materials to be effective. There would need to be a significant amount of work accomplished to produce a framework in which this video could be useful. There are no goals, objectives, or exercises/assignments provided for this video and therefore it is not clear what the students are supposed to learn. Undergraduate students need more direction and structure, instructors need to tell them what they are looking for and to what they must pay attention. Due to the limited length of the clip, students are not exposed to the consequences of the actions portrayed in the film. This makes it difficult to show relationships between concepts

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 3.75 stars
Strengths: The video clip is embedded in the module for ease of access. The textbooks & related resources links you to for information. Uploading your own learning objectives, discussion questions, and exchange of teaching ideas is easy
Concerns: • The original clip can be accessed via Hulu (website provided) but you must subscribe to Hulu to be able to view it. This makes it more cumbersome to add to an assignment • It would be difficult to have students access this page as it is geared towards the instructor, not the student – it is not a student-ready module of learning

Other Issues and Comments: The Mindgate Media site is an excellent repository for exchanging teaching ideas associated with various movie clips. The site is excellent if an instructor is looking for short clips to augment lectures or discussions without requiring them to purchase the entire film. But it's also important that the content be put in perspective in an organization. For example, is this one disgruntled employee or does this reflect general morale? Actions by management to deal with this employee may be very different than they would be in dealing with an entire organization. The content issue with the R rating may make this unacceptable for the classroom, even though it's just one word that cause the problem (apparently).