Why is Glengarry Glenn Ross watched so often in business classes?

Glengarry Glen Ross is often watched in business classes to demonstrate an example of bad human resource management and poor sales strategies.

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The reasons this film or play would be appealing to those teaching a business class is that it is a great demonstration of how not to motivate your team and how not do try to get sales.

The premise is that the team's bosses, Mitch and Murray, have set up a competition to see which of the four members of the sales team can sell the most plots of vacant land within a given time frame.

While the one who wins gets not only prestige but also a shiny new Cadillac, the person who comes second will get a set of steak knives, which is a prize nowhere near commensurate with what the winner gets. The problems of the person who comes second however, are nothing compared to those who come third or fourth—because they are going to be fired.

While this story provides a humorous and accurate indication of how not to be a boss, it also has some valuable lessons for employees. The four employees in the story do not feel that the leads they have been given to work with are adequate and resort to some extraordinary, illegal, and ridiculous measures to get leads, bring in clients, and sign deals. The way in which this team works is the opposite of working together—but this is to be expected when the stakes in a contest vary between a Cadillac and unemployment.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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There are at least three reasons why Glengarry Glen Ross is so frequently watched in business classes. The first is that it is an extremely well-written, well-acted and compelling film with an all-star cast. The second is that it is a film which not only concerns business (since there are many films in this category) but deals with the strategies of closing business deals and motivating teams in some detail. Many films which are superficially about commerce actually spend most of their time depicting the lifestyles of multimillionaire businessmen or investigating complex and recondite frauds. Glengarry Glen Ross looks at the real estate business in a much more down-to-earth manner.

Perhaps the most important reason for the film's popularity, however, is that it includes multiple viewpoints, and can be used to teach from a wide range of perspectives. Take, for instance, the most famous scene in the film, the motivational speech delivered to the salesman by Alec Baldwin's character. If you have a highly competitive, dog-eat-dog view of the business world, you might present this as an illustration of the way business works. Many managers, however, would be horrified by such strategies for motivating a team, and present Baldwin's monologue as an example of exactly what not to do when managing people. From a pedagogical perspective, Glengarry Glen Ross contains something for everyone.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

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