Machiavelli, Marketing, and Management

Machiavelli, Marketing, and Management

Machiavelli, Marketing, and Management

Machiavelli, Marketing, and Management


Providing insight into the meaning and interpretation of Machiavelli and his works for management, marketing and political thought, this text highlights their relevance to the manager today.


As Machiavelli wrote in a famous letter to Francesco Vettori describing his solitary days of exile:

…Evening has fallen, I return home and enter my study; and…so decorously clad I enter into the ancient courts of ancient men; where received amorously by them, I nourish myself of that food that is only mine and for which I was born; where I shame not to speak with them and ask them the reason for their actions.

(Machiavelli 1961: Introduction)

Machiavelli turned to the great figures of the past to find answers to the problems of his day. Five hundred years later a group of university professors, historians and experts in social, economic and human sciences joined together in an international seminar organized by the Manchester Metropolitan University to discuss whether the author of Il Principe still had relevant answers to the many problems of our society. His masterpiece Il Principe is such a tour de force that his ideas have found applications beyond the political sphere, today as well as yesterday, in very different sectors of social and economic life, such as management and marketing. Against the contemporary view that history was governed by God and fate, Machiavelli affirmed homo faber’s free will to determine his own destiny, capable of matching his behaviour to the necessities of his times.

We must remember that Machiavelli’s masterpiece was in reality a job application addressed to a contemporary prince that, however, never attained the desired results. On the other hand, the author was far too intelligent not to realize that success is not the same as reading a book about success. Since the criteria and yardsticks of its interpretation vary from person to person, one man’s success could well represent another man’s failure. It is not always easy to establish what personal success is: quite often a millionaire can be just as dissatisfied as a poor person.

The interest and passion Machiavelli dedicated to politics can be applied to the management of the complex world of business, where we can find all the

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