Mafia Business Strategy


After entering the keyword “management” into WordPress I unexpectedly came across a post entitled “A lesson from the Mafia on buisness strategy” accompanied with a photo of The Godfather. At first I expected the post to be an entertaining article filled with random parallels between the mafia and more legitimate (and legal) forms of business but I was surprised to find that the post had results from experiments conducted with actual business managers. Such experiments found that managers do in fact keep their “enemies” close and do so in a highly physical way.

The philosophy of keeping friends close and enemies closer is a widely known idea dating back to Machiavelli’s The Prince but the science behind it is far less known. In the experiment mentioned it was found that leaders instinctively feel the need move toward people they identify as threatening opponents, placing their chairs 15 inches closer on average! While this strategy can be highly effective for keeping an eye on the competition it can also have the adverse effect of overwhelming a skilled subordinate the leader feels threatened by. I agree with the author’s conclusion that the most successful managers are the ones who have the ability to give their talented colleagues space and freedom to thrive without being micromanaged.

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3 responses to “Mafia Business Strategy

  1. As a fan of The Godfather, your first sentence caught my attention. I read the blog post that you linked, and found the conclusion that people behave better when they act more freely to be interesting. In my blog post, I wrote about how people’s ethical behavior can’t be influenced by their superiors. Therefore, I agree that the more talented managers are the ones who let their colleagues work freely. This is an important professional ability and I believe that people definitely work better when they aren’t micromanaged or influenced by their superiors.

  2. I was very intrigued by the title of your post. It may be wrong to judge a book by its cover, but can it be right to judge it by its title? It seems that just as I wanted to read your post because I found the title interesting, it seems as you wanted to read the mafia blog because of its fascinating title.

    I think your mention of Machiavelli and The Prince is a wise one! But, do you think it is better to keep your enemies closer if it means potentially impacting their quality of work. This question is only applicable if your “enemy” is a coworker who is working toward the same goal as you are. Otherwise keeping a closer watch of your actual enemies makes total sense!

  3. Brett, that’s a really great blog you found! The idea of keeping knowing your competition is essential to any successful business model. This reminds me of a conversation that I had with my brother a couple of months ago about an article he read about corporate espionage. I don’t have the link for the article he mentioned but I Googled the term and found some cool stuff.

    http://www.businesspundit.com/10-most-notorious-acts-of-corporate-espionage/

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304543904577396520137905092.html

    I think that there is some great material there out there for a great Business Ethics paper.

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