Using the Film "American Factory" in the Human Resource Management Skills Classroom


  • Gordon Schmidt Purdue University - Fort Wayne


This paper presents the documentary film American Factory as an excellent tool for teaching and applying the topics of conflict, culture, communication, unionization, training, and employee relations in undergraduate human resource management courses. The documentary involves a Chinese company opening up a glass factory in the town of Dayton, Ohio on the site of a former General Motors plant. This situation leads to a number of conflicts between the primarily American workforce and the primarily Chinese management team, many of which relate to HR concepts. The film offers rich examples that can be analyzed by students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom. Examples of how the film could be applied in an HRM class are discussed. Films that could be used to supplement the use of American Factory or as an alternative are also discussed.

Author Biography

Gordon Schmidt, Purdue University - Fort Wayne

Chair & Associate Professor of Organizational Leadership




How to Cite

Schmidt, G. . (2021). Using the Film "American Factory" in the Human Resource Management Skills Classroom. Journal of Human Resources Education, 15(3/4), 21–33. Retrieved from