OB-based Analysis of a Film
(Due In-class (paper) and Online on December 4th)
MOVIE OPTIONS: Hidden Figures, School of Rock, Imitation Game, Lion King
Your analysis should be at least 2,000 words in length, and not more than 2,500. It should be divided into two approximately equal parts, one reflective and the other critical. The paper should double-spaced, with 1” margins. The font should be 11-point Times New Roman, Cambria, or Helvetica. It should be submitted in the appropriate place on cuLearn by the deadline and a paper copy handed in to your Its at the final lecture. The first thing to do, of course, is watch the film you have chosen from among the choices given. If you have already seen it, it is highly recommended that you watch it again.
In the reflective portion, ask yourself: What did I observe in this film and what possible meanings could these observations have? The key task here is to gather as many observations as possible from different points of view. The main skill to work on is perspective taking, or what some people call “re-framing.” Look at the narrative events and describe them from different perspectives. For example, how did certain characters view the situation and what did it mean to them? What would a neutral (“objective”) observer have seen and heard? What perspective did you have – in other words, how did it affect you? Reflect on these observations to discover the personal meaning that the material had for you. Write this.
In the second, conceptual portion, use at least two concepts or theories from the course material to look beneath the surface at why the main characters behaved the way they did. Provide the source for each reference to theory in an appropriate format and use quality external sources to enhance your analysis. In reviewing theoretical material, first, briefly define the concept or theory as you would for someone who was not familiar with it. Next, apply the concept thoroughly to your observations of the film. The tie-in should include the specific details of how the theory relates to and provides insight into the experiences of the main characters in the film. Does the example support or refute the theory? IMPORTANT: Avoid merely providing a “book report” of what you have observed in your film – you must discuss how you see concepts and theories relating to key examples, events, or characters. In other words, you must reframe the plot/action/behaviour of individuals in the context of the course material.
Papers will be marked on the following criteria:
- Attention to purpose of the assignment. This means addressing the purpose, aims and themes of the assignment comprehensively, with enthusiasm and imagination.
- Clarity of expression. This includes flow and integration of material, overall organization of ideas, grammar.
- This means how deeply you observe and analyze the work that you choose, and how well you identify multiple perspectives as they relate to the theory. You are confident in reflecting on material; expression of insight and multiple perspectives shows your ability to explain effects of events on individuals. You use specific examples to support your analysis.
- For each of the two theories you choose, you will be evaluated on:
- Your knowledge of the theory. You demonstrate a sophisticated grasp of theory and innovativeness in the selection and handling of theory.
- Your analysis. You must analyze people and situations through application of theory, resulting in a compelling integration of theory & plot; your use of both of these elements in framing analysis must be persuasive, showing a high-level understanding.
Organizational Behavior and Film Analysis
Personal Reflection on Hidden Figures
Hidden Figures is a bibliography of three female National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) mathematicians who were able to survive through racism, gender discrimination and stereotypes to become lead scientists in the organization. The mathematicians work for NASA during the Space Race period when the US was competing with Russia in sending astronauts to space. Katherine Johnson is the first woman in the film whose genius grasp of mathematics allows her to study in elite schools until she graduates and qualifies for a job at NASA. As a skilled mathematician, her good grasp of mathematics allows her to get a role in calculating flight trajectories for NASA’s space shuttles. Dorothy Vaughan was also a skilled mathematician who specialized in programming and worked as a supervisor at the IBM room. Finally, Mary Jackson was both a mathematician and engineer, allowing her to work as an engineer in NASA. One due to the circumstances within the country and organization as will be explained later, each of the women becomes the first black woman in their roles and thus, set the standards for future involvement of women and minorities in work places within the country.
Based on the challenges and struggles faced by these women, it was surprising that they were able to remain strong and hardworking. For Katherine Johnson, the work environment was extremely demeaning, yet she had to provide the desired results. This is evident in the scene where she is asked to join Al Harrison’s Space Task Group for the first time due to her skills in analytical geometry. As she arrives, she is met with a demeaning atmosphere especially from colleagues such as Paul Stafford, the senior engineer in the task group. Having been aware that Johnson had skills in analytical geometry, Al Harrison delegated to her the role of analyzing other engineers’ calculations and reporting to him. Since she understood the demand for the work and the calculations, she decided to persevere the demeaning attitude from her colleagues and did her best to analyze the calculations. She worked long hours and even struggled with smaller challenges as an African American woman like lack of toilets for colored women in the building where the Task Group worked. The film clearly emphasizes the struggle by Johnson to get to the colored women toilets located in the Langley Research Center, half a mile from her new location. Other challenges she faced included: using the name of her senior engineer (Stafford) in her reports even though she worked on them and being secluded from critical meetings related to her work causing her to repeat her reports all the time since new adjustments were being produced momentarily. She however remained hard working, completed her projects within time and her calculations were mostly accurate, and thus, her opinions and data were highly dependable.
Similarly, Mary Jackson was unable to apply for a job as an engineer at NASA despite having interest and contributing to the designs of the capsule’s heat shields. Although she was motivated her senior engineer who was both Polish and Jewish to apply for an engineering job, she had to advance her studies further at a whites only school in order to be granted the job. Getting permission to pursue these studies was a struggle since the school was strictly for the whites, and as noted on her first day for studies at the school, the syllabus was not designed for women. Her husband was equally pessimistic about her dreams and quest to advance her studies since he had begun accepting the reality that as African Americans, they can never be appointed to jobs meant for the whites. Johnson is however encouraged by her friends, Vaughan and Johnson to stop complaining and take action. Accordingly, she convinces a court to allow her join the school and she is allowed to take night-classes. She eventually graduates and allowed to join the NASA engineering team. Finally, Vaughan is given supervisory roles but is denied the salary and title of a supervisor due to her race. She runs a team of human computers at the West Area Computers and when she asks Supervisor Vivian Mitchell to recognize her, she is reminded that she was only appointed temporarily and will have to be patient until another supervisor is appointed. Ironically she has worked on the job well for about a year. While at the library with her children she is also requested to leave since the library is meant for the whites and due to her disappointment, she stills a book to read to her children later. Despite all these, she remains keen on her interest in programing and one day when she gets an opportunity to visit the IBM room, she initiates some changes on the machines causing them to run and thus, she is appointed together with the entire team of human computers into the IBM room.
In all these cases, common themes included racial discrimination, demeaning working environment and the struggle to fit in. In Johnson’s case, the bad attitude from colleagues would influence one to give up with the work. By making the same person to run half a mile about four times in a day to get a toilet, the situation would change from bad to worse and even evoke feelings of hate and anger towards the work and the organization. Personally I believe I would feel demoralized and would want to raise my concerns early into the job. If specific actions would not be taken to improve the situation, I would consider resigning from the work. However, if I were in Jackson’s actual case, resignation would not be an option since finding such prestigious jobs was difficult especially for the minorities. I would therefore struggle as much as I could until my team leader notices as Johnson did. It was difficult to communicate the issue and thus, taking the actions she did provided her an opportunity to address the issue with support from the consequences of her actions. As for Jackson, choosing to petition the court to grant her permission to join the school was a good step. Her decision to use researched information about the judge as opposed to simply complaining about how unfair the society was could be considered the main reason why the judge supported her quest to study. Personally, I think my opinion would have been clouded by the struggles and instead of remaining subjective, I could have argued based on emotions and this would have had a negative effect on the outcome of the case. Jackson’s approach was therefore successful at influencing the judge’s decision.
Finally, Vaughan was also keen to meeting her goals and even though she was denied an opportunity to grow in her career and acquire more influence, she fought in her own ways. By visiting the IBM center and engaging the machines, she defied common practice by being where he was never supposed to be. She repeated the same even in the library by allowing her children visit with her although it was not allowed. In most cases, one would choose to wait in the same position until when their opportunities present themselves. However, Vaughan was keen to get all that she felt she deserved and this provided her with the opportunity to test her knowledge and contribute positively towards recognition. Based on all these experiences by the protagonists in the film, I believe perseverance, through hard work, pursuing personal goals and commitment can help me achieve all the goals. I have also learnt that challenges are common in work places and in life but the manner in which they ae handled would determine my success or failure at the moment and in future. If Jackson opted to adopt an attitude like that of his husband, he would have never been able to stretch her limits to be an engineer. Probably she would have remained a human computer or underutilize her skills simply as a junior technician yet she could have been a full engineer.
Johnson, Jackson and Vaughan were all able to prove their worth in NASA to become pioneer female scientists from minority groups in NASA. The contribution by the three can also be considered the main motivator for changes in the work diversity and inclusion efforts that followed in NASA. Nonetheless, this study also acknowledges that another critical factor that influenced the women into surpassing their limitations and challenges were their personalities. According to Chamorro-Premuzic (2017), personality refers to the characteristics behaviors, thought processes and feelings that are specific to every individual as they exist and face different issues in their environments. Personalities ae mainly psychological and they include: conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness and extraversion. This essay will not focus on all these personalities but those that only define the protagonists in this film. To begin with, Johnson’s ability to persevere and remain committed to her work illustrates her conscientiousness. Aretoulis et al (2017) noted that conscientiousness is associated with organization in all aspects of life, perseverance, reliability, hard work and dependability. All these characteristic behaviors, ways of thinking and beliefs are common on Johnson. Evidently, as a human computer, she remained committed to her work despite having extra skills like analytical geometry that would have demanded that she works with the Harrison’s Task Group right from the beginning. Upon her temporary promotion, she gets to where she belongs but receives cold treatment from her colleagues who already demean her due to her race and gender. As she gets into the room occupied by the Task Group, every engineer stares at her with a demeaning attitude but she chooses to proceed with work, regardless of the environment. Right from the beginning, she is given a lot of work of evaluating the calculations of other engineers including her new boss, Stafford, who gives her his work in highly deducted formats.
Johnson struggles to get the work done and even though she has to run half a mile at least four times in a day to use the female toilets for colored in the building housing the human computers. While in the toilet, she is also captured doing her work, further supporting the argument that she hard working. Her conscientiousness is also supported further by her dependability that enabled her to write all reports and updates regarding calculations developed for upcoming projects. Harrison considered her a critical part of his team due to this dependability and when the task group was unable to explain how they will maintain the space shuttle’s orbit around the globe, she was able to create knowledge through applying old mathematical techniques that no one else had considered possible. These support Taylor, Bedeian and Kluemper’s (2012) arguments that conscientious people tend to enhance knowledge in work places, spend more time at work and their performances exceed expectations in most cases. Although Jackson shared some of these traits, she was mainly sociable, assertive, bold and in most cases, talkative. According to Eysenck (2012), such a person portrays extraversion and in most cases, they seek to increase their power and influence while maintaining positive affectivity. At the beginning of the film, as the police stops to enquire what the women were dong by the roadside, Johnson had known Jackson’s tendency to be talkative and stopped Jackson from speaking much to the officer. She knew that Jackson may mention something that may affect their ability to proceed. After receiving permission to work with the engineering team on the space capsule, she took her permission in celebratory telling her colleagues of how excited she was. However, Jackson was able to put her talkative nature to good use when she addressed the judge in her case articulately and boldly.
Due to Jackson’s passion for her work, she defended her right to join the recommended engineering school in order to gain more influence at her workplace as an engineer. Her actions and success in pursuing her goals were contrast to her husband’s since despite having a skeptical view of life, she accepted where she was and worked to be better. She remained happy and through her sociable character, entertained her friends whenever possible. Finally, Vaughan exhibited openness to new experiences. As a temporary supervisor in an unofficial capacity, she did not mind the racial difference between her and her supervisor Mitchell and thus, asked her to confirm her as the permanent supervisor. Cobb-Clack and Schurer (2012) add that people with openness as a personality also tend to be imaginative and curious. Notably, Vaughan was keen to know how the IBM worked and could be programed and thus, found tie to sneak into the IBM room to have an actual experience of it and even test some ideas she had gained on it. Her imaginative nature allowed her to predict the future version of the IBM and even began working on it together with her team even without permission. Another critical issue in this film is perception and this mainly influenced communication. Most important, stereotyping due to race caused the whites to communicate differently with the African Americans. For instance, when Harrison met Johnson for the first time, he opted to keep asking his secretary about her, despite knowing that Johnson was human enough to speak directly to her. The horns effect was also evident when Stafford interacted with Johnson for the first time and this caused him to develop horns for Johnson. Horns refer to the negative cognitive perceptions that supersede the focus on good traits leading to biased perceptions about others (Burton et al, 2015). Stafford kept viewing Johnson as a weaker gender and race. He felt that she should not be part of most high level meetings and operations. In other parts of the film, the horns kept guiding perceptions of the whites against African Americans and this caused increased segregation in the community.
Aretoulis, G. N., Papathanasiou, J. B., Zapounidis, K., & Seridou, A. A. (2017). Conscientiousness personality trait defines the competent Greek project manager. International Journal Of Business Performance Management, 18(3), 350-380. doi:10.1504/IJBPM.2017.10004096
Burton, S., Cook, L. A., Howlett, E., & Newman, C. L. (2015). Broken halos and shattered horns: overcoming the biasing effects of prior expectations through objective information disclosure. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 43(2), 240-256.
CHAMORRO-PREMUZIC, T. (2017). COULD YOUR PERSONALITY DERAIL YOUR CAREER? DON’T TAKE THESE TRAITS TO THE EXTREME. Harvard Business Review, 95(5), 138-141.
Cobb-Clark, D. A., & Schurer, S. (2012). The stability of big-five personality traits. Economics Letters, 115(1), 11-15.
Eysenck, H. J. (Ed.). (2012). A model for personality. Springer Science & Business Media.
Taylor, S. G., Bedeian, A. G., & Kluemper, D. H. (2012). Linking workplace incivility to citizenship performance: The combined effects of affective commitment and conscientiousness. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 33(7), 878-893.