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Essay on Supervision theories: Case Study of Two Movies

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: Case Study of Two Movies

This narrative report uses the Cain, and Mister Robert movies to assess the practical, ethical, and social impacts of theories of supervision on employee development, morale and motivation. A great deal can be learned about a culture through looking at its entertainment. A society’s popular entertainment shows its values and beliefs. This is certainly true of films in employee development and supervision. Because of the unique dramatic nature of film, movies are an important tool in communicating values and teaching lessons to the masses. This paper analyzes the roles of supervision theories in employee development by comparing and contrasting the application of various theories of supervision in the two movies.

Supervision is getting the job done through others. Good supervision must include personal trust, respect and confidence between employees and supervisors. The role of the supervisor is to interpret the directive of the top management and draw from subordinates the work necessary to meet those desires. The Upper-level management sets policy and identifies goals for the organization. These goals would be communicated to the supervisors who would implement the goals. To achieve these organizational objectives, the supervisor must apply effective communications and decision-making techniques to plan, organize, direct, and control organizational resources. In ships, the supervisors are the captains and can delegate duties to other commanding officer such as the cargo office, the communication officer and the

Review of the Two Movies
The Caine Mutiny movie is the story of shipboard conflict. This story of a mutiny aboard a WWII naval vessel focuses on the naval captain Queeg, who shows signs of mental instability that, jeopardizes the ship. The first officer relieves him as the commanding officer and faces court martial for mutiny. The novel The Cain Mutiny by Herman Wouk provides the materials for this movie.

The film shows events in the last years of the Second World War. The film follows the experiences of young and idealistic officer-graduate Ensign Willie Keith. Ensign Keith reports for duty at Pearl Harbor and gets assigned to the battered WW II destroyer the U.S.S. Caine. This is so old that one of its sailors comically jokes about why it would be wise not to scrape the rust from the aging, shabby, rust-bucket destroyer. An aspiring novelist and communications officer Lieutenant Thomas Keefer shows him around the ship.

The commanding officer Lieutenant Commander DeVriess gets a transfer soon after. In his place comes a strict disciplinarian, Philip Francis Queeg, with a record of surviving numerous German U-boat attacks in the North Atlantic. When he takes over the Caine, the new skipper antagonizes all of his officers in their first meeting with a description of his unfamiliar style of military command his desire to do things by the book

Repeated incidents of poor seamanship, instability, inadequate command and judgment cause further trouble in the South Pacific for the Caine and poor stand of the captain in the eyes of Keefer. Keefer steadily instills doubt in the confidence of the crew and Maryk – the second in command, in Queeg by questioning the captain’s mental instability. At first, the well-meaning Maryk defends, but, Queeg’s lack of control causes Maryk to believe Keefer’s assessment that the Captain has a mental disorder.

The maneuvers in a fierce typhoon cause all hell to break loose on the USS Cain, especially when the beleaguered and seemingly incompetent Captain Queeg panics and refuses to change course this makes Lt Maryk relieve him of his duties backed by the officer of the deck Willie Keith who sites section 184 of the Navy Regulation.This leads to a court martial trial of Maryk and Keith for mutiny where the communication officer Keefer absolves himself of any wrong doing leaving the two to be charged. However, Queegs own performance during his own trial leads to the disqualification of the case against Lt Maryk.

The movie ends at the harbour, with Keith reassigned to a new ship under the command of the popular Captain DeVriess. Keith has a new bride May Wynn, who kisses him at dockside and watches as his ship departs for the Pacific.
The Mister Roberts is a 1955 American comedy drama film. The film has it base on a 1946 novel and a 1948 Broadway play. The film set in the last days of the Second World War on the U.S. Navy cargo ship Reluctant, in the backwaters of the Pacific Ocean. The unpopular captain, Lieutenant Commander Morton, is proud of his spotless record. His executive officer, Lieutenant Junior Grade Douglas A. “Doug” Roberts, tries to protect the demotivated crew from Morton’s colonial authority.

Roberts is very eager to join the war and resorts to repeatedly sending requests for a transfer. Because of regulation Morton has to forward Robert’s requests, but never endorses them, which makes all this requests be rejected. Roberts clandestinely requests crew liberty from one of Morton’s superiors. Although he gets the liberty, Morton blatantly refuses to give the crew a shore leave. The captain on relent to let the crew leave the ship on condition that Roberts stops requesting for transfers and stops writing letters relating to the working conflict on the ship.

After the liberty Doug surprises the crewmen by new strictness. An opportunity Morton uses to deceives them into thinking that Roberts is working for a promotion. When he Roberts learns of the Allied victory in Europe he gets depressed for knowing the war may end soon without him ever seeing combat.

One day a patriotic radio speech celebrating VE Day inspires him, that he throws Morton’s prized palm tree overboard in a show of defiance. An incident that makes the crew discover the real reasons for Roberts’s strictness. Much later, Roberts gets an unexpected transfer which he learns that the crew risked court martial by submitting his transfer request with Morton’s forged imprimatur. To celebrate his departure, the crew offer Robert a handmade medal that symbolizing the Order of the Palm, the palm he threw overboard as an action against the enemy.

Pulver gets appointed the new Cargo chief and one day he receives two letters from Roberts’s new ship. One of the letters, written by Robert, describes his new role. He also cherishes the opportunity he had to work with the crew on the Reluctant while the other carry news about the death of Robert thereafter. As the other crew members moan the death of Robert, Pulver throws the captain’s new Palm tree overboard. This is because the action of Roberts  when he was the cargo office motivates him to stand up against oppression of the crew.
A Comparison: Supervision Theories versus the Two Movies on Employee Development

The two films focuses on events that happened on a ship involving their captains. Both films are set on small naval vassals, have lazy crews, and are far in the back waters far away from the real battle front. In both, the Captains are uptight disciplinarians, lacking imagination, who tries to blame the crew for their own shortcomings and failures; in both, a courageous, but unimaginative first officer attempts to mend fences and keep things from falling apart. In the Caine Mutiny film, a very strict captain that very quickly becomes very unpopular with the crew takes the place of a apopular captaing in a staff reshafle. With the second in command officer being a poor supervisor, there is a hole in the leadership of the USS Caine that the communication officer uses to manipulate the crew, resulting in a mutiny. The captain in the Mister Robert is also very strict but, his deputy is a great leader that sacrifices his dreams at some point in order to keep the crew well supervised.

An aspect of supervision theories that clearly applies to both the films is the concept of power. It has long been noted that the desire for power is a basic human need and that the desire is stronger in some people than in others. In the two movies, there are different types of power displayed as well as different motives for desiring power.

One such type is coercive power. When using this style, the supervisors threaten some kind of undesired consequence in an attempt to force the subordinate to follow. In the two films, the Captains are excellent examples of individuals applying coercive power. In Mr. Robert, the ship’s doctor admits this by saying that the Captain of a navy ship is the most absolute monarch left in this world. On the Caine, the first speech by the new captain Queeg typifies power as he uses all manner of threats. This kind of power serves to demoralize the employees by creating conflicts rather than foster development employees.

Both films thrive on the conflict that exists between the captain and crew. In the two films, the captain is the commanding officer and there exist some conflict in their chosen way of operation. According to the supervision theories, supervision often brings conflict and one of the roles of the supervisor is to help solve the conflict the way conflict are handle in the two ships depicted in the movies determines the outcome of the employee morale. The Caine Mutiny is a tale of the tensions and turmoil among the officers and crew on the Navy destroyer the Pacific backwaters during the Second World War The poor handling of the conflict results in a court martial. On the other hand although Mister Roberts has several conflicts, such between the captain and the crew, between the captain and Robert among others. Yet the way Robert handles the conflicts boost the crew motivates them and makes them like him.

The situation in the two films best depicts the two sides of the contingency theory as applied to employee supervision. The contingency theory suggests the supervisor’s ability to supervise is dependent upon various situational factors, including the supervisor’s preferred style, the capabilities and behaviors of the crew and various other situational factors. The theory assumes leadership behaviors affect outcomes, such as group performance and achieving goals, by influencing the subordinates’ behavior. The Cain Mutiny situation is a typical change situation. The New commanding officer Queeg style is very different from his predecessor this affects the morale and eventual the performance of the crew. By not considering the prevailing situation, the new captain creates conflicts which eventual leads to his improper removal. On the other hand, the captain of the Reluctant is a tyranny; however Roberts stands to the occasion and severally makes great interventions to save the situation.

The two movies reveal various aspect of trait theory as it pertains the supervisors and how this leads to employee development and motivation. Inorder for captains to be excellent supervisors, they should have particular traits or characteristics. These traits include intelligence, height, and self-confidence and differentiate Supervisors from non supervisors. On the Reluctant vessel, the supervisor gets compromised by the desire to keep his record spotless. Thus, he lacks the traits of an effective supervisor as postulated in the trait theory. However, he has a well able deputy who has to sacrifice a lot to keep the ship in harmony and thus help employees have some peace of mind and abit of motivation.

On the other hand, the Cain Mutiny displays what happens to employees when the supervisors lack necessary traits to lead. On this vassal captain, Queeg is the supervisor and in his absence Maryk should take charge. The captain has a mental disorder and Maryk lacks the traits to supervisor. This creates room for a much junior officer such as Keefer manipulate the supervision of the ship. In the end employees such as Keith develops, not from motivation by their supervisors but by learning from their mistakes such as having to undergo the court martial.

The transforming theory features a lot in the two films but much on the opposite ends. In accordance with this theory, for employee development to take place in any organization, both the employee and the supervisor work to raise each other to higher levels of morality. When supervisors use this style they help to shape and alter and elevate the motivation, values and goals of the employees. This theory is evident in these two films because of its strong emphasis on the captain-crew relationship and its focus on ethics in supervision. The idea of transformational supervision is played out in the Mister Roberts film through the character of Mr. Roberts. At a typical example of this theory in practice is in the scene where he gives an insightful speech to Pulver, telling him that he is lazy, disorganized, never finishes anything and is afraid of the Captain. He further levels with him by saying that he will have respect for him only when he finishes something he has begun. From this scene on, the audience sees Pulver develop into a stronger man. Through expressing his true thoughts, Mr. Roberts encouraged Pulver to gather the courage to stand up for what is right. The moment that truly reveals Mr. Roberts’ influence is the very end of the movie, when Pulver finally stands up to the injustice of the Captain. He becomes inspired after reading letters delivered from Mr. Roberts’ new ship and storms toward the Captain’s quarters, throwing his palm tree overboard, and demanding the movie showing that the Captain had cancelled for that night be reinstated.

The movie shows that transforming supervisors are effective. They unite the followers around a common goal, encourage them to become more moral people, and are generally liked by the employees they are supervising. This relationship seems to thrive in the Caine Mutiny film when the popular Lieutenant Commander DeVriess is the captain but disappears when Queeg takes over as commanding officer. Once DeVriess leaves more conflict are depicted as a result of the rigidity of the new captain, Queeg, which is detrimental to the motivation of the crew and results in a mutiny.

The situation depicted on the Reluctant, especially through the actions of Mr Roberts and later, ensign Pulver, shows the qualities and of a good supervisor and the actions and traits of great supervision theories. Mr. Roberts is a much more efficient in his duties than the Captain. Roberts has a unique blend of characteristics, socialized power motive, transforming supervision qualities and uses task and relational behaviors that make him more adorable by the crew.
The two films depict a perfect illustration of what happens in the absence of proper supervision. On the Reluctant, the captain Lieutenant Commander Morton is a poor supervisor and is more concerned about his record and progress in his own navy career. In the absence of proper supervision, the alternative commander, Mister Robert seizes the opportunity to foster employee development by making sure that they are motivated. For example has to bribe an official using his scotch to send the Reluctant to a liberty port for the crew, again he has to sacrifice his ambition to make the captain let the crew of the ship. This is a perfect example of proper supervision leadership.

On the other hand, the Cain Mutiny is a perfect example of what happens in the absence of proper supervision and the alternative supervisors are not up to the task. The commanding officer on the naval vessel USS Caine has mental disorders and is a coward hence can not foster employee development as he continuously de-motivates them. The alternative supervisor, executive officer Maryk, is gullible and is easily swayed by the smart and cunning communication officer Keefer. In the end instead of motivating the crew to support the captain when he needs their help, he instead lets the captain be isolated and eventually relieves him of his supervision powers an act that leads to a court mutiny

References: Supervision theories: Case Study of Two Movies

Wikipedia. (2013, October 10). Mister Roberts (1955 film). Retrieved November 08, 2013, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Wikipedia. (2013, November 9). The Caine Mutiny (film). Retrieved November 9, 2013, from Wikipedia:

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