Brainfood: History lessons - Business takeovers - Niccolo Machiavelli

To be Machiavellian is to be shrewd, opportunistic, even amoral. The Florentine diplomat who lent his name to such calculating practices wrote the bible on power, The Prince, in 1513. Every scheming businessman would do well to read this handbook: when it comes to office politics, little seems to have changed in 500 years. But though Machiavelli is associated with machination, manipulation and deviousness, he warns that evil should be entered into only 'when necessity commands'. His advice for handling country (read company) takeovers is wise and insightful. He counsels that to successfully manage the integration of an acquired firm, the chief executive must 'be both fortunate and diligent to hold on to it. The best method to make the new possession secure is for the conqueror to live in the new territory in person. By being there, you can detect trouble and deal with it immediately. If you are absent, trouble is discovered only when it has grown serious, then it is too late.'

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

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