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Machiavellian Management?

December 19, 2013

2013 marks the 500th anniversary of Niccolo Machiavelli’s “The Prince;” a little book declaring that public political position demands actions, which personal morals or religious values would otherwise condemn. In other words, interests of the state render “evil” actions non-evil when necessary: killing (war); or dominating some for the sake of state expansion.

Here, I don’t want to debate what has come to be known as “Machiavellian.”

Machiavellian Management?

Machiavellian Management?

But, is “Machiavellian Management” in companies sometimes necessary? For the health of the company, must personal ethics occasionally be suspended? Unlike the state and its citizens, in the case of the company, its employees do not always benefit when management exercises what might be seen as Machiavellian measures: layoffs; decreased benefits; work conditions that stress personal lives.

Who have I seen caught in the middle? Mid-level managers wrestling with the pressures of their position of power and lack of power; their personal values and the company’s needs. “We’re not a family here.” But we are human.


(1) Is “Machiavellian Management” necessary, or an excuse?

(2) How do we address this issue honestly in management development?

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