Lord of the Flies: A "Live Case" Approach to Leadership


  • Maryanne Rouse
  • Hamilton Stirling


The purpose of this demonstration is to show how a "live" case, structured around the film Lord of the Flies, has been used in introductory management courses to integrate the trait, behavioral, and contingency theories of leadership while highlighting the constraints placed on individuals in leadership roles. The 90-minute film provides an unusually rich set of common experiences, which form the basis for class discussion. By observing the shifts in power and influence and in leadership and "followership" roles from the plane crash through ultimate rescue, students gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of leadership and the types of behaviors that are more or less effective in different positions and situations. This exercise is patterned on a "live" case developed around the film Twelve O'clock High, which has been used successfully in a variety of settings for more than a decade.