Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Comparison between The Prince and Carr's philosophy

Regarding two tough calls and flashback to [Conflict on the] trading floor [by Joseph L. Badaracco Jr., Jerry Useem] and [Is Business Bluffing Ethical? by Albert Z. Carr] Carr: Alex Bradford prepared a very pertinent quote from Machiavelli's The Prince and compared it to Carr's philosophy. -- Henry B. Reiling

“….From my interpretation of Carr's article, Carr stressed law/government as the primary boundary influencing decisions/outcomes, but Machiavelli took a more complete approach and argued that [of course] ethics/morality influence decisions/outcomes in addition to the law (sometimes superseding the law). So the "Machiavellian" leader is able to USE ethics to his own good by promoting and teaching them, even though he wont always BE ethical. Sun Tsu makes a similar argument in saying reputation is everything... Locke through Nietzsche even make the same ethics-based argument. For this reason I don't believe Carr is a true Machiavellian. Imagine if everyone in an organization followed Carr's advice, how would a leader lead an organization of completely self-serving individuals? And what about reputation and trust? I pasted below an excerpt from Machiavelli's 18th chapter "Concerning Ways a Prince Should Keep the Faith," that summarizes Machiavelli's thoughts on the importance of ethics. The source of misinterpretation is between looking ethical and being ethical -- something that I would argue most successful business/political leaders have understood (from George Bush to Bill Clinton to Bill Gates etc etc). The danger for society is that looking ethical allows one to act more unethical. So in this sense, Machiavelli promotes ethics but is unethical, whereas Carr is just plain unethical. Thanks-Alex”

"Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful; to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite. And you have to understand this, that a prince, especially a new one, cannot observe all those things for which men are esteemed, being often forced, in order to maintain the state, to act contrary to faith, friendship, humanity, and religion. Therefore it is necessary for him to have a mind ready to turn itself accordingly as the winds and variations of fortune force it, yet, as I have said above, not to diverge from the good if he can avoid doing so, but, if compelled, then to know how to set about it.

"For this reason a prince ought to take care that he never lets anything slip from his lips that is not replete with the above-named five qualities, that he may appear to him who sees and hears him altogether merciful, faithful, humane, upright, and religious. There is nothing more necessary to appear to have than this last quality, inasmuch as men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, because it belongs to everybody to see you, to few to come in touch with you. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them; and in the actions of all men, and especially of princes, which it is not prudent to challenge, one judges by the result.

"For that reason, let a prince have the credit of conquering and holding his state, the means will always be considered honest, and he will be praised by everybody because the vulgar are always taken by what a thing seems to be and by what comes of it; and in the world there are only the vulgar, for the few find a place there only when the many have no ground to rest on. One prince* of the present time, whom it is not well to name, never preaches anything else but peace and good faith, and to both he is most hostile, and either, if he had kept it, would have deprived him of reputation and kingdom many a time." * (Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor)


Is Business Bluffing Ethical?
Albert Z. Carr
Product Type: Harvard Business Review Article
Product#: 68102 Pub. Date: January 01, 1968
Length: 7p
Business, like poker, is often a game of strategic bluffs. The worlds of private and business life are separate and demand separate codes of...

Conflict on a Trading Floor (A)
Joseph L. Badaracco Jr., Jerry Useem
Product Type: Case (Field)
Product#: 394060 Pub. Date: October 20, 1993
Length: 5p

A junior salesperson on FirstAmerica Bank's trading floor is assisting a top salesperson, Linda, on a deal to finance the construction of a new...