Misunderstanding machiavelli in management: metaphor, analogy and historical method

Michael Macaulay, Alan L Lawton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article investigates some of the various ways in which theorists have used Machiavelli (and more specifically The Prince) in a business and management context and suggests that the two most common approaches, the use of the metaphor and use of the analogy, are both flawed. Metaphor often relies on a reading of Machiavelli that cannot be sustained, whereas analogy takes Machiavelli too far out of historical context. The article discusses how business and management can more usefully incorporate Machiavelli's ideas by placing them within a position of discourse, along the lines of Lockyer's historical method. The authors outline three potential discourses: those of humanism; of guides to leadership; and of power. In doing so the article suggests that in historic texts (in particular Machiavelli) can prove useful to students and practitioners of business and management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-30
JournalPhilosophy of Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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