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Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure: Parallels to Entrepreneurship

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A short documentary film, "Shackleston's Antarctic Adventure," is a useful resource for teaching and studying entrepreneurship.

This documentary follows the daring real-life exploits of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew. Determined to become the first people to walk across the South Pole, Shackleton and his men embark on their daring Antarctic expedition by sea. When their ship, the Endurance, is trapped and destroyed by ice, the British explorer and his group struggle to survive in the harsh, frigid environment, defying the odds as they cheat death, largely through sheer perseverance.

My colleagues and I at Babson College have used this documentary to introduce students to the world of entrepreneurship -- more specifically, to reinforce a broader concept of entrepreneurship by making analogies between Shackleton’s expedition and an entrepreneurial journey (i.e., venture start-up). After watching the film, discussions can be utilized to start defining what entrepreneurship means, what the journey entails, and what constitutes the building blocks, steps and phases in the entrepreneurship process.

Discussions often involve identifying what students saw in the film, and making parallels with entrepreneurship. Topics include (and are not limited to):

  • Uncharted territory (e.g., exploring something new, recognizing opportunity, making choices involving risk and reward)
  • Ambiguity/uncertainty (e.g., getting used to ambiguity/uncertainty, realizing that things rarely go according to plan)
  • Change (e.g., being flexible towards change, adapting to different goals, making sacrifices)
  • Importance of the team (e.g., utilizing individual skills, developing loyalty and trust, keeping the team together)
  • Understanding resources (e.g., prioritizing, knowing what’s important, and knowing what’s available)
  • Passion and optimism (e.g., being persistent, persevering, overcoming obstacles, turning failure into triumph, learning from failure)

Endeavoring to define and capture what entrepreneurship is, and identifying the building blocks in the entrepreneurial process, the film could be used for both undergraduate and graduate students in entrepreneurship courses.

More ideas

College business professors looking for more ideas to enrich the classroom experience can find them here.

Additional Search Terms: entrepreneurship courses, teaching ideas, teaching resources, classroom ideas, entrepreneurship classes, business schools, business school classes, entrepreneurship students, professors

Yasuhiro (Yasu) Yamakawa
Yasuhiro (Yasu) Yamakawa
Associate Professor / Entrepreneurship / Babson College
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Cite this Article

DOI: 10.17919/X9JP4V
Yamakawa, Y. (2016, September 16). Shackleton's antarctic adventure: parallels to entrepreneurship. Entrepreneur & Innovation Exchange. Retrieved July 13, 2024, from
Yamakawa, Yasuhiro (Yasu). "Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure: Parallels to Entrepreneurship" Entrepreneur & Innovation Exchange. 16 Sep. 2016. Web 13 Jul. 2024 <>.