Please or Register to create posts and topics.

Should You Choose Machiavellian Business Partners?

After reading Lucio's article on Machiavellianism, this comes to mind.

I think we discussed this topic before.
Generally, high-power individuals are better to partner with when doing business.
As long as they have good character.

I was thinking that there are pros & cons of choosing Machiavellian business partners.
The ideal would be a value-adding, Machiavellian business partner with high ethical standards.
Though I think we cannot rely on that ideal to do business.


  • Machiavellian business partners would likely maximise their own interests and hence the business where they have an equity stake in
  • More likely to make objective decisions best for the company
  • They can spot other Machiavellis manipulations better


  • They will maximise their own self-interests ahead of yours
  • They may engage in value-taking behaviour which is bad for the company and reflects badly on the culture
  • Sometimes the less calculative approach may paradoxically be more productive in the long run.
    Being calculative can be a form of micromanagement in my opinion.
    But calculative in the sense of making objective decisions is good.

Some CEOs do the approach of maximising earnings over the next 5 years to show that they are doing well.
They collect their bonuses and high salary over the 5 years and leave for another company.
The problems in the long term are passed down to the next CEO.

That may seem like a good idea because they maximise their upside and possibly reduces their own risk.
It reduces their own risk because going for short-term results can be less risky.
At least you get something unlike the uncertainty of going for long-term results.

However, some of the best CEOs take the long-term approach.
They earn the most, and the company earns the most. (Not sure about the employees though)
I think Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are such CEOs.


Just to be clear:

The moment someone has "ethical standards", then he's not technically a Machiavellian anymore.

If we're discussing "a person with Machiavellian traits MINUS this trait that is part and parcel of Machiavellianism", then we're discussing something else.

Call it "enlightened Machiavellian", as we use on this website, or "high-quality individual with Machiavellian intelligence".
Whichever name you prefer, but it's not technically a Machiavellian anymore, since "amorality" is central to the Machiavellian personality.


Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?


I didn't know that amorality is central to the Machiavellian personality.
So I suppose Machiavellian comes with a strict definition.

This also means that "ethical standards" do not always serve one's self-interests.
This is why Machiavellians don't have ethical standards because it's beneficial not to have them.


And to answer the main question:

I'm not aware of any research.

But personally, if you take all the Machiavellian-related traits, they are very similar to power-awareness.

So then the question becomes: should you choose a smart business partner, or a naive one?

And the answer becomes easy to me.

But of course, I might be biased as my focus is on power and strategy-related topics :).
Maybe a naive but highly driven business partner who wants to change the world might be a good bet. But then again, one sparrow doesn't make spring, and even if one could list me a few cases, I'd still think that the majority of successful business people either have or develop good power intelligence and strategic thinking .

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?