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Abstract

The pursuit of profit and business success has always been the goal of CEOs and many business practitioners. This has further led to the devaluation of the human person in many business practices. This global economic system can best be described as the reinvention of the ―Hobbessian Jungle‖ that is described as the state of ‗war of all against all' (bellum omnium contra omnes), and a state of ‗man becoming wolf to man' (homo lupus homini). The present economic arrangement bequeaths on us a state where man is involved in constant economic war of self-survival to the detriment of other peoples' happiness and wellbeing. That the business world embodies its own morality different from other practices is the final conclusion of some ethicists. Therefore, this paper, with the use of appropriate secondary data, critically examines the fundamental strategy of the corporate world with particular attention placed on the recurrent battle between ―Corporate Machiavellianists‖ and ―MacIntyrian Capitalists‖. Alasdair MacIntyre's intellectual-moral intervention is worthy of critical assessment in any interpersonal relationship, the corporate world inclusive. Alasdair MacIntyre's theory of virtue forms the basis of interrogating unethical business practices generated from the loopholes in the capitalist economic system. This paper concludes by recommending the emergence of virtuous corporations or MacIntyrian capitalists.
© 2014 Research Academy of Social Sciences
http://www.rassweb.com 397
International Journal of Management Sciences
Vol. 4, No. 9, 2014, 397-405
Corporate Machiavellianism and Macintyrian Capitalism: The Battle
for the Soul of Business
Agbude Godwyns Ade1, Ogunwede Joseph Kayode2, Wogu Ikedinachi, A.P3, Godwyns-
Agbude Joy4
Abstract
The pursuit of profit and business success has always been the goal of CEOs and many business
practitioners. This has further led to the devaluation of the human person in many business practices. This
global economic system can best be described as the reinvention of the ―Hobbessian Jungle‖ that is described
as the state of ‗war of all against all‘ (bellum omnium contra omnes), and a state of ‗man becoming wolf to
man‘ (homo lupus homini). The present economic arrangement bequeaths on us a state where man is
involved in constant economic war of self-survival to the detriment of other peoples‘ happiness and
wellbeing. That the business world embodies its own morality different from other practices is the final
conclusion of some ethicists. Therefore, this paper, with the use of appropriate secondary data, critically
examines the fundamental strategy of the corporate world with particular attention placed on the recurrent
battle between ―Corporate Machiavellianists‖ and ―MacIntyrian Capitalists‖. Alasdair MacIntyre‘s
intellectual-moral intervention is worthy of critical assessment in any interpersonal relationship, the
corporate world inclusive. Alasdair MacIntyre‘s theory of virtue forms the basis of interrogating unethical
business practices generated from the loopholes in the capitalist economic system. This paper concludes by
recommending the emergence of virtuous corporations or MacIntyrian capitalists.
Keywords: Corporate Machiavellianism, MacIntyrian capitalism; Virtue and Vice; ethics and Development
1. Introduction
It was Aristotle (1962, 1996) who first gave a copious analysis of the emergence of human society in
which he argued that the human being is a social being and must of necessity exist in the community of other
beings. He had a teleological conception of nature. According to him, all things in the world are to be
understood in relation to the ends they aim to achieve.
In his famous book, The Politics, he presented five fundamental ideas:
1. The State is a natural community
2. The State is the highest community
3. Man‘s end is to live the life of happiness
4. The State exists to help man live the life of happiness
5. In pursuing his goal of happiness man needs not just the State but his fellow men. In
Other words, man‘s goal (happiness) is only realizable in the company of his fellow men.
1College of Development Studies, Department of Political Science and International Relations, School of Social
Sciences,
Covenant University, Ogun State, Nigeria.
2Department of Accountancy, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria. Doctoral Student, Dept of
Business Administration Babcock University, Ilishan, Nigeria
3Department of Psychology School of Human Resource Development College of Development Studies Covenant
University, Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria.
4Charis Center of Leadership and Development Studies Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State
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Aristotle‘s description of the human person is such that happiness is central to human existence. In view
of man‘s realization of his unique end (happiness), business organizations emerged as a ‗subsidiaries‘ of the
State in promoting man‘s happiness and meeting the needs of man for which the State emerged to cater for.
Aristotelian vision of the human person is thus of a being whose humanity must not be undermined in his
daily transaction with the world. All men are thus free to pursue their own happiness, but such pursuit must
not be to the detriment of the humanity of another man.
Just as the State emerged for the good of man, so also business organizations (either public or private)
evolved as a ‗subsidiaries‘ of the State for the good of man. In other words, business organizations emerged
to cater for the needs of man. Albeit, the individual organizers of the force of production, in the process of
pursuing their own happiness (economic benefits), are supposed to engage in transactions that will engender
the happiness of man alone.
However, the growth of the human society, as it were, the development of capitalism as a profound
human socio-economic construct, with elaborate freedom has widen the gap between ―I‖ and ―We‖.
Capitalism preference for ‗the self‘ as center of human interaction has further created the room for the pursuit
of individual happiness at the expense of others.
Statement of Problem
The present human community globally has been swallowed by the force of capitalism which is often
defined as an economic system where private actors are allowed to own and control the use of property in
accord with their own interests, and where the invisible hand of the pricing mechanism coordinates supply
and demand in markets in a way that is automatically in the best interests of society (Scott, 2006). Under the
pretense of promoting the good of the whole society, the capitalists‘ primary consideration is the furtherance
of their economic benefits which are mostly pursued sometimes to the detriments of other ‗selves‘ in the
same human community.
A further reflection on capitalism exposes and explains the inherent loopholes within this economic
system which has been adequately explored by immoral business executives- both large scale and small scale
business owners.
A market economy based on a broad participation of different forms of private ownership permits the
achievement of the highest degree of effectiveness-among all economic systems known in practice-in using
the material and spiritual resources of a society. As a result, it generates the quickest improvement in the
living standard of citizens. This is because economizing costs, good organization of work, high quality of
production, the effective search for new markets, and technical progress and development are in the interest
of the proprietors who direct the work of enterprises (Gazeta, 1990).
The pursuit of profit and business success has become the goal of CEOs and many business
practitioners. This has further led to the devaluation of the human person in many business practices. This
global economy system can best be described as the reinvention of Hobbessian Jungle that is described as the
state of ‗war of all against all‘ (bellum omnium contra omnes), and a state of ‗man becoming wolf to man‘
(homo lupus homini). The present economic arrangement bequeaths on us a state where man is involved in
constant economic war of self-survival to the detriment of others‘ happiness and wellbeing. That the business
world embodies its own morality different from other practices is the final conclusion of some ethicists. The
problem becomes driving a trajectory between profit maximization and not using others as a stooge of
economic benefits as the capitalist economic arrangement permits.
Aims and Objectives of this Research
Jackall (1988), in his book, Moral Mazes, depicts the business world as a conglomerate of people who
are driven, primarily, by selfish interest (See Horvath, 1995). Indeed, our contemporary time witnesses the
period where most business practitioners care-less about the consequences of their actions on their fellow
human beings. Some business ethicists designate managers as self-centered and manipulative (Posner and
Schmidt, 1984; Ralston, 1985) while others argue that they lack moral integrity (Kerr, 1988).
International Journal of Management Sciences
399
In the face of these claims, the central objectives of this paper are as follow:
1. To accentuate the importance of morality in business practices.
2. To present MacIntyre theory of virtue as a panacea to modern immoral business practices.
3. To emphasize the necessity of moral education to business practitioners.
2. Corporate Machiavellianism
Machiavelli advises that ―one must know how to color one‘s actions and to be a great liar and deceiver.
Men are so simple, and so much creatures of circumstance, that the deceiver will always find someone ready
to be deceived. A prince…need not necessarily have all the good qualities…but he should certainly appear to
have them‖ (Machiavelli, 1956 cited in Agbude, 2010: 286). This advice has been adopted and applied
several times by entrepreneurs and investors to gather more money for themselves not minding the
implication on the health and the lives of their customers.
Machiavelli posits further that ―a prince…must have no other object or thought, nor acquire skill in
anything, except war, its organization, and its discipline. The art of war is all that is expected of a
ruler….The first way to lose your state is to neglect the art of war; the first way to win a state is to be skilled
in the art of war‖ (Machiavelli, 1956 cited in Agbude, 2010: 287).
The business world has been conducted as warfare ground where the survival of the fittest and the
elimination of the unfit is almost the order of the day. Competition becomes intensified as several business
owners of either complimentary or supplementary products see one another as enemies that must be
eliminated. The warfare is not mostly among the competitors but also sometimes between the business
enterprises and their customers. Sometimes, the battle line is drawn between the enterprises and the
suppliers. Sometimes, the war is between the business owners and the host community.
Again, Machiavelli advises that the prince must never let his thought stray from military exercises,
which he must pursue more vigorously in peace than in war. These exercises can be both physical and
mental. A wise prince must observe these rules; he must never take things easy in times of peace, but rather
use the latter assiduously, in order to be able to reap the profit in times of adversity (Machiavelli, 1956 cited
in Agbude, 2010: 287). When adopted, this proposition encourages all forms of evil practices within the
confine of the corporate world. Cruel and dangerous competitions, inhumane and sharp practices, corporate
blackmailing, commercial propaganda, deceptions, fraud, production and provision of substandard products,
and etc are hereby considered as integral part of the corporate world.
According to Machiavelli, there are two ways of fighting: by law or by force. The first way is natural to
men, and the second to beasts. But as the first way often proves inadequate one must needs have recourse to
the second (Machiavelli, 1956 cited in Agbude, 2010).
In other words, the corporate prince (the entrepreneur) should adopt the approach of a beast in the
business world.. A beast refers to instinctive, irrational, and aggressive personality. It refers to something
unpleasant; something wild or unruly or unrestrained. Political leaders are to act as beasts. In other words,
they are to act irrational, unruly, wild, unpleasant, and aggressive in order to retain their power (Agbude,
2010: 286-287). This proposal is a dangerous one for the corporate world.
Corporate Machiavellianism is the tendency to detach from considerations of ethics and perform actions
that seek the benefits of self alone without recourse to the effects of such actions on others (Robinson and
Shaver, 1973). Christie and Geis (1970) opine that high Machiavellians would outrightly take advantage of
loose structures to exploit others. Schepers (2003) argues that if high Machiavellians are likely to take
advantage of the range of understandings of exchange ethics in order to commit what might well be judged
unethical activity, then it behooves society and corporations to train business people in exchange ethics, and
to give such issues a permanent place in social and corporate dialogue. It is on the basis of this proposition
that we propose the integration of virtue theory (especially as elaborated by MacIntyre) into the business
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world in order to produce virtuous business practitioners whose goal is not just promoting personal wellbeing
but the wellbeing of the community of humanity. A further justification of this study is that it seeks to
improve on MacIntyre‘s theory of virtue by discussing the practical means/ways of training and empowering
business practitioners to develop moral rectitude as a way of life.
As a matter of fact, the present business world has been characterized as Machiavellianism with the
popular aphorism of ‗the end justifies the means‘ (Hegarty and Sims, 1978, 1979; Singhapakdi, 1993).
Machiavellianism is not against ethical behavior in business per se, but lives with the high possibility of
indulging in unethical behavior especially when the actions are for the benefits of the self. It emphasizes the
fact that the end of business practices is profit maximization; and business practitioners have the foremost
responsibility to maximize profit either for the shareholders in the case of large corporations or for individual
entrepreneurs. Just as Machiavelli advises the prince to learn the art of war even in the time of peace,
Corporate Machiavellianism undertake this advice to the detriment of the well-beings of others.
…taking into account, he (the prince) will find that some of the things that appear to be virtues will, if
he practices them, ruin him, and some of the things that appear to be vices will bring him security and
prosperity (Machiavelli, 1956).
Corporate Managers and individual entrepreneurs have incorporated this into their business concept
resulting into what is today known as Corporate Machiavellianism.
3. Maclntyre and the Theory of Virtue
The concept of agon, (i.e, competition or contest) has dominated the business world to the detriment of
others‘ wellbeing. The focus has become effectiveness which entails winning against all odds. Businesses
focus on the achievements of external goods such as wealth, fame and power. However, the concept of the
agon (a Greek word for contest or competition) is not negative in itself. But just that such contest must not
undermine the community and the human persons that occupy it. For the moral person (a MacIntyrian
capitalist, a competition provides him with the occasion of doing his best without necessarily undermining
the humanity of others. It enhances the possibility to favourably contest to serve humanity through a virtuous
engagement with business transaction that is customer-oriented. MacIntyre introduces excellence as against
the ethics of mere effectiveness which focuses on successes, fame, wealth and power. The point is that
excellence involves an internal standard which is socially approved and community oriented. According to
Horvath:
While effectiveness defaults to that externally based perspective of winning, the ethic of excellence
offers a fundamental alternative to winning. As Maclntyre uses the term, excellence involves an awareness
of one's roles within society. Further, these roles constrain the individual to a basic integrity, accountability
and justice: one must fill these roles well in order to benefit the society. Personal gain (winning) becomes
secondary within such a group-centered focus. In this view, personal meaning (and reward) comes with the
success of the group, not the self over others. This alternative is seen in the works of Aristotle (1962, 1996).
Developing Aristotelian themes for the modern age, Maclntyre returns several times to the concept of roles.
He sets the stage for Aristotle by going back to the age of the heroic society (Horvath, 1995).
The Virtue theory model has three components namely: community, roles, and virtues. The human
community is the foundation of morality. Under this theorizing, there is group-centered paradigm which is at
variance with the self-centered paradigm customary in ethical relativism which is the bane of the corporate
world. Furthermore, the three stages in MacIntyre‘s discourse of virtue provide a ground against liberal
individualism and Corporate Machiavellianism that characterized the present business world.
The First Stage: Practice
In his book, After Virtue, MacIntyre introduces practice as the first stage in the pursuit of ethics in
organizing a society.
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…I shall be using the word ‗practice‘ in a specially defined way which does not completely agree with
current ordinary usage,….
By a 'practice' I am going to mean any coherent and complex form of socially established cooperative
human activity through which goods internal to that form of activity are realized in the course of trying to
achieve those standards of excellence which are appropriate to, and partially definitive of, that form of
activity, with the result that human powers to achieve excellence, and human conceptions of the ends and
goods involved, are systematically extended (MacIntrye, 1984: 187).
For MacIntyre, chess, farming and football… are good examples of practices. In understanding what he
meant by ‗internal goods‘, his example of chess suffices. For him, two classes of goods are acquirable from
the practice of chess. One who is skillful in playing chess may gain wealth, power and fame these are the
external goods one could acquire. In the same vein, there are internal goods such as skill, competitiveness
and strategic imagination. These are only acquirable from the practice of chess playing. In the same vein, by
engaging in the business world, one has the possibility of achieving the external goods such as wealth, power
and fame.
More so, there are some goods which are related to chess. These internal goods are: analytic skill,
competitiveness, and strategic imagination.
Practices Cum Virtues
MacIntyre seems to be convinced that practice and virtue are inseparable in an organized human society.
He therefore defines virtue as:
... an acquired human quality the possession and exercise of which tends to enable us to achieve those
goods which are internal to practices and the lack of which effectively prevents us from achieving any such
goods(MacIntyre, 1984: 191).
Having given this definition, for the first time in his book, MacIntyre went on to identify justice,
courage and honesty as fundamentally important virtues without which practices could become immoral
activities aimed at personal advancement without paying attention to the humanity of fellow human. This
implies that these virtues are centrally important to fairly interact with other human beings within a practice
either in the corporate world or the political world.
Thus, in the business world, justice demands that the business practitioners give to the stakeholders
what they deserve. Justice demands that we pay our employees fairly. Honesty demands that we do not
engage in selective emphasis in marketing and advertising.
Stage 2: The Narrative Unity of a Life
MacIntyre argues that human actions can be explained within the confine of a narrative.
We identify a particular action only by invoking two kinds of context, implicitly if not explicitly. We
place the agent's intentions, I have suggested, in causal and temporal order with reference to their role in his
or her history; and we also place them with reference to their role in the history of the setting or settings to
which they belong. In doing this, in determining what causal efficacy the agent's intentions had in one or
more directions, and how his short-term intentions succeeded or failed to be constitutive of long-term
intentions, we ourselves write a further part of these histories.
Narrative history of a certain kind turns out to be the basic and essential genre for the characterization of
human actions (MacIntyre, 1984: 208).
According to MacIntrye, for any human action to be termed intelligible, it must be within the confine of
a narrative. Thus, he proposes the ‗narrative self‘ which he claims is antithetic to the ‗emotive self‘ which
promotes individualism as the determining factor in all human activities. MacIntyre argues thus:
But it is not just that different individuals live in different social circumstances; it is also that we all
approach our own circumstances as bearers of a particular social identity.I am someone's son or daughter,
someone else's cousin or uncle; I am a citizen of this or that city, a member of this or that guild or profession;
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I belong to this clan, that tribe, this nation. Hence what is good for me has to be the good for one who
inhabits these roles. As such I inherit from the past of my family, my city, my tribe, my nation, a variety of
debts, inheritances, rightful expectations and obligations. These constitute the given of my life, my moral
starting point. (MacIntyre, 1984: 220).
The individual self is an active member of the larger community thus must not be construe as an
emotive self but rather as a narrative self who must act to the benefit of others who are within his/her
narrative (history). Therefore, in the business world, the narrative life must replace the emotive life in order
to give room for ethics of business (transaction) that will integrate the community of humanity. Instead of
pursing personal selfish interest, one begins to consider the existence of others within one‘s narratives.
Third Stage: Tradition
The notion of tradition is the final and of great importance in MacIntyre‘s analysis of morality.
According to him:
A living tradition ... is an historically extended, socially embodied argument, and an argument precisely
in part about the goods which constitute that tradition. Within a tradition the pursuit of goods extends
through generations, sometimes through many generations the history of a practice in our time is generally
and characteristically embedded in and made intelligible in terms of the larger and longer history of the
tradition through which the practice in its present form was conveyed to us; the history of each of our own
lives is generally and characteristically embedded in and made intelligible in terms of the larger and longer
histories of a number of traditions ((MacIntyre, 1984: 222).
An individual is integrated within a narrative and part of a practice or practices; at the same time he is
entrapped within some traditions. Tradition gives unity to the human life. Men are united by traditions.
Man‘s quest for a good life is usually within the purview of traditions.
MacIntyre underscores the fact that liberal ideology is the major reason for the malaise of modernity.
According to him, liberalism defines itself and isolates individuals as though they are not part of traditions.
The business world and the entrepreneurs‘ engagement of this ideology turned the business world to the
domain of personal pursuits of wealth to the detriment of the community and the stakeholders. Thus, for
him, liberal individuals will not be able to display virtues since their formative orientation permit
individualism; whereas the virtues give primacy to the community or group rather than selfish pursuit.
Every activity, every enquiry, every practice aims at some good; for by 'the good' or 'a good' we
mean that at which human beings characteristically aim....
Human beings, like the members of all other species, have a specific nature; and that nature is such
that they have certain aims and goals, such that they move by nature towards a specific telos.... What
then does the good for man turn out to be? Aristotle... gives it the name of eudaimonia- as so often there is a
difficulty in translation: blessedness, happiness, prosperity. It is the state of being well and doing well in
being well, of a man's being well-favored himself and in relation to the divine....The virtues are precisely
those qualities the possession of which will enable an individual to achieve eudaimonia and the lack of
which will frustrate his movement towards the telos (MacIntyre, 1984:148).
One‘s purpose is connected to the role one holds in one‘s society. Just as it was in the old Greek city-
states, everyone has a responsibility or to say, a role to play in the society. Whoever failed to perform his role
in the old Greek city-states was referred to as idios; which is the root of the English word Idiot. All of us
have specific roles to perform in our society.
Business managers and the individual entrepreneurs do not only have responsibilities to their
corporations but also to the whole community at large. In other word, they have roles and responsibilities to
both their organizations and their communities. In case where organizational role clashes with community
role, the latter supersedes.
It is the virtue that enhances the capacity of the human person to pursue the eudaimonia (flourishing and
wellbeing) of others alongside with oneself rather than solely pursuit of personal interest. This is the
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403
dimension in which MacIntyre‘s reinvention of Aristotelian virtue becomes a necessity in contemporary
business world in order to produce virtuous business organizations that are focused on serving rather warring
against the eudaimonia (flourishing and wellbeing) of others.
4. Concluding Remarks
Since arising in the eighteenth century, capitalism has changed the face and chemistry of the earth. It
has led to the emergence of great corporations and that of big and small business organizations which have
built mountains of private wealth. Most of these organizations exist in the midst of controversial and
unethical practices such as window dressing of their financial status to carry out fraudulent practices, CEOs‘
immoral and illegal acquisition of private properties, the use of shareholders money for personal benefit,
corporate fraud, over concentration on profit as the major purpose of business practices. Given these negative
factors, there is a need to address the operating system of capitalism that causes most CEOs and business
practitioners to act not with the interest of enhancing the happiness of humanity but with goal of profit
maximization for the shareholders and themselves which sometimes could exert negative effect on others.
The significance of this paper underscores the fact that if we want to change the effects of immoral
business practices (organizational behavior), we have to upgrade its operating system.
Hardin (1968) proposed Statism and Privatism as the two authentic ways of saving the commons (the
laborers or the poor) from the evils of capitalism and immoral business practices. For him, either a coercive
(but legitimate) government would have to, through taxation, regulations and public ownership, stop
capitalists immoral business practices which has resulted into the destruction of the planet, widening of the
gap between the poor and rich and creating human unhappiness, or private property owners themselves stop
the immoral business practices.
But we locate the ‗messiahic‘ intervention in MacIntrye‘s proposal of theory of virtue as the necessary
value in redressing immoral business practices. While the discourse on virtue is traceable to the ancient
Philosophers, notably Plato and Aristotle, their forms of virtue are by no means the only ones. What virtue
theory refers to, rather, is a collection of normative ethical philosophies that place an emphasis on being
rather than doing. Put in another way, in virtue theory, morality stems from the identity and/or character of
the individual, rather than being a reflection of the actions (or consequences thereof) of the individual.
Today, there is a great amount of debate among various adherents of virtue ethics about what specific virtues
are morally praiseworthy. However, there is unanimous agreement that morality comes as a result of intrinsic
virtuesthis is the common link that unites the sometimes disparate normative philosophies into the field
known as virtue ethics (The free encyclopedia Virtue ethics From Wikipedia). Alasdair MacIntyre seems to
be convinced that the devaluation of the human person cannot be saved with the pontification and the
legalism of both Utilitarianism and Deontology but rather a quick return to virtue theory as proposed by
Aristotle.
While deontology places the emphasis on doing one's duty, which is established by some kind of moral
imperative (in other words, the emphasis is on obedience to some higher moral absolute), consequentialism
bases the morality of an action upon the consequences of the outcome (the free encyclopedia Virtue ethics
From Wikipedia). The main contention with consequentialism is what outcome should/can be identified as
objectively desirable. The Greatest Happiness Principle of John Stuart Mill is one of the most commonly
adopted criteria. Mill (1859, 1861) asserts that our determinant of the desirability of an action is the net
amount of happiness it brings, the number of people it brings it to, and the duration of the happiness (The
free encyclopedia Virtue ethics From Wikipedia)
MacIntyre‘s theory of virtue concentrates on the development of moral agents; and if there is anything
the business world urgently need, it is the development of moral corporate managers, business leaders and
individual entrepreneurs. Thus, the relevance of this study becomes obvious in the face of current practices
within the business world. In other words, corporate organizations should begin to emphasize the need to
always behave morally to their employees given that this is not antithetical to good profit.
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As against corporate Machiavellianism, we are calling for MacIntyrian capitalism given that it has
proven impossible to destroy capitalism as an economy system. The implication of this call is that instead of
becoming injurious to their customers and employees in their pursuit of profit maximization, corporate heads
should embrace the concept of virtue as an imperative in their operations. They should become MacIntyrian
capitalists i.e. virtuous capitalists and their corporations, virtuous organization. This is an appeal to the
moral consciousness of heads of corporations and their organizations to embrace more civil, virtuous and
moral rectitude in expanding their business organizations. This is the whole essence of MacIntyrian
capitialism. Business is a service to humanity and not warfare. To save the soul of business, our capitalists
must embrace MacIntyre‘s virtue ethics as against corporate Machiavellianism.
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http://www.google.com.ng/?gws_rd=ssl#q=The+free+encyclopedia+Virtue+ethics+From+Wikipedi
a. Retrieved on 28th June, 2014; 12: 23pm
Wikipedia (2014) ―Virtue Ethics‖, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtue_ethics. Retrieved on 28th June, 2014;
12: 23pm
... There are two camps among scholars regarding the relevancy of Niccolò Machiavelli's book The Prince (Machiavelli, 1992) to modern day management and leadership. Some scholars argue that the book has never been or is no longer relevant to business management and leadership (Agbude, 2014;Fournel, 2014;Jackson, 2013;Tillyris, 2015). Some contend that it is indeed relevant (Konno, 2014;O'Sullivan, 2014;Rojek, 2014;Ruggiero, 2015;Soll, 2014;Thomas, 2014). ...
... Some scholars have simply argued that Renaissance Florence is not our modern world and that the political world espoused in The Prince is not the business world today (Jackson, 2013). Other researchers contend that Machiavelli's teaching that political leaders are to act as beasts seems to be a dangerous proposition for the corporate world to enact (Agbude, 2014). This literal interpretation argues that beheadings would not be allowed today and that politics is cutthroat, unlike business (Jackson, 2013). ...
... The word justice never appears in The Prince and some scholars believe that Machiavelli evaluated politics as a power independent of law. However, Machiavelli does indeed mention laws and taxation throughout The Prince, and he teaches that there are two ways of fighting: by law or by force (Agbude, 2014). Reasoning about justice is central to Machiavelli's ethics and political thought, and his "thought is applicable to all times" (Quaglioni, 2014). ...
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But can a 16th-century political treatise provide any guidance on today’s competitive environment? There are two camps among scholars regarding the relevancy of Niccolò Machiavelli’s book The Prince (Machiavelli, 1992) to modern day management and leadership. Some scholars argue that the book has never been or is no longer relevant to business management and leadership (Agbude, 2014; Fournel, 2014; Jackson, 2013; Tillyris, 2015). Some contend that it is indeed relevant (Konno, 2014; O’Sullivan, 2014; Rojek, 2014; Ruggiero, 2015; Soll, 2014; Thomas, 2014). Herein, it is argued that this work by Machiavelli is indeed relevant. In particular, it is widely accepted that leaders and managers are more effective if they have influence. However, Machiavelli has been wrongly associated primarily with the advocacy of vile tactics of manipulation. It is argued herein that The Prince has an over-arching emphasis on the importance of a leader’s or manager’s acquisition and sustenance of influence. A number of modern day examples of how Machiavellian lessons are and can be applied today in the high-tech arena follows.
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Research by Reidenbach and Robin (1990) provides a means to study the differential impact of three dimensions of attitude toward ethics: moral equity, relativism, and contractualism. It is hypothesized that moral equity will be the most significant predictor of ethical judgment and intent to act. It is also hypothesized that Machiavellianism and profit will affect relativism and contractualism dimensions, but not moral equity. Additionally, it is hypothesized that Machiavellianism will interact with profit to affect intent to act. Moral equity was found to be the only predictor of ethical judgment, and moral equity and contractualism were predictors of intent to act. Machiavellianism impacted contractualism, but not relativism. Corporate profit did not affect either ethical judgment or intent to act, and did not interact with Machiavellianism. Implications for business ethics education and training are discussed.
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