Traditional schooling, although important, only teaches a person so much. For business students, colleges and universities do a great job teaching the principles of business, but these principles should be supplemented with films and documentaries that accurately portray the real-world business environment. These films and documentaries, when combined with traditional business teachings, can help students prepare themselves for their future business endeavors.
While many business films and documentaries are somewhat dramatized by Hollywood, they still do a good job of providing behind-the-scenes insight as to how the real world conducts business. For students, these films and documentaries provide practical lessons that can be used as fiction or nonfiction case studies.
1. "Boiler Room"
"Boiler Room" is an ideal film for business students to watch at a young age because it deals with business ethics and the need to properly vet a job prior to accepting the position. The movie takes place during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s and follows a college dropout who becomes a stockbroker to please his father.
Seth, the main character, becomes caught up in the allure of large commissions and wealthy partners, and turns himself into a top salesperson. However, he begins to question the legitimacy of his job and the operations of his company, and he has to come to terms with what matters in life: money or reputation. This film does a great job of highlighting the pitfalls of a "get rich quick" business mentality.
2. "Glengarry Glen Ross"
"Glengarry Glen Ross" is an iconic business film that was a 1992 adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name. The film follows four real estate agents who have an inability to successfully sell properties to retirement communities. Facing pressure from their company, they are forced into a sales contest where the losers are fired. The idea of being a "hard closer" in sales comes from this film.
This movie accurately portrays the pressure put on salespeople and the cutthroat environment of corporate sales. In addition, the film highlights real-world sales skills such as speaking with confidence, taking note of details and making a personal connection with potential clients.
3. "Office Space"
"Office Space" is normally thought of as a dark or somewhat dry comedy making fun of the American corporate work environment. While it is humorous, it does a great job of highlighting the corporate rat race and promotes the discovery of true happiness for the everyday employee.
The film follows computer programmer Peter Gibbons who is unfulfilled with his job. With corporate downsizing on the horizon, Peter and two programmer friends decide to take action against the company. Through the film's ironic portrayal of corporate life, business students are able to understand the importance of effective management. Additionally, the film forces its viewers to reflect on their own careers and whether they are truly fulfilling.
4. "Wall Street"
Besides, "Glengarry Glen Ross," "Wall Street" could be the most iconic business movie of all time. The film follows a young and impressionable broker on Wall Street who is mentored by Gordon Gekko, a ruthless financial titan. The young broker, played by Charlie Sheen, takes bad advice from his mentor and executes trades based on insider information. This movie dives into corporate greed and the lengths people go to become rich. The film is a commentary on how greed can change a person's values and gives business students a basis for being virtuous in their business dealings.
5. "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price"
"Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price" is a documentary that deals with Wal-Mart's negative business practices. Former employees and small business owners are interviewed in an attempt to highlight Wal-Mart's social effect on the business environment.
This documentary gives business students a chance to peer into the operations of a multinational corporation and learn about its overall business strategy. Additionally, it gives them a chance to understand what it means to be a corporate employee for a company of that size.