Leadership in Crisis: Ernest Shackleton and the Epic Voyage of the Endurance

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Nancy F. Koehn, Erica Helms, Phillip Mead

Overview of the Case Study

Provides an opportunity to examine leadership and entrepreneurship in the context of Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 Antarctic expedition, a compelling story of crisis, survival, and triumph. Summarizes Shackleton’s career as an officer in the British Merchant Marine, his work on several prominent Antarctic missions, and the competitive nature of polar exploration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Also evaluates Shackleton’s planning and advance management of what he hoped would be the first-ever trek across the Antarctic continent. Details the events of this epic voyage aboard the Endurance. Readers have the opportunity to examine how, after the vessel became trapped in ice and the crew abandoned ship, the commander shifted his objectives and responsibilities from completing an historic march to ensuring the survival of all 28 expedition members. Considers Shackleton’s efforts to maintain his team’s morale, loyalty, and commitment in the face of extraordinary mental and physical trials during almost two years in the Antarctic.

Approach Towards Case Study Solution:

To extract valuable business lessons from a nonbusiness source; to identify the leadership and management practices that Shackleton used to help his team survive; to evaluate the explorer as an entrepreneur using the characteristics, context, and processes associated with identifying opportunities, marshalling resources, and starting new businesses; and to understand why Shackleton’s story reemerged in the 1990s.

Key Concepts Used in Case Analysis:

Crisis management; Entrepreneurship; Human resource management; Leadership; Managerial behavior; Personal strategy & style; Teams

Key Facts Addressed in Case Study Solution:

* Starts on: 1914

* Ends on: 1916

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