The IMC War: Balancing Power and Values

The aim of college courses is to prepare students for their professional lives.  In our IMC class we have been assigned books that teach us ideas, facts, values, and more.  To teach us more about the importance of values in business we read Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince.

This book is Machiavelli’s guide to holding and seizing power.  The Prince was written in 1513 for Lorenzo de’ Medici, the prince of Florence.  Despite its age, this book remains popular and important for those involved in government, politics, and positions of power.  Machiavelli uses the book as a way to give calculated advice backed up by examples.  Throughout the book, Machiavelli sets morals aside and focuses on how to attain goals of power.  He teaches readers how to use violence, lies, abilities, and luck to force others under your control.

How does this book teach us values?  After reading The Prince we wrote a memo to our chancellor to either recommend or not recommend Machiavelli as an IMC consultant based off of his ideas within the book.  We had to decide if we were willing to risk our values and beliefs to accomplish our goals as a university. 

Machiavelli makes decisions based off of research, forms consistent messages, and knows how to accomplish goals in the most direct, efficient way.  This may seem like the way to go if his suggestions fit the company’s mission and vision.  In other cases, this drive to complete a goal without respecting values could ultimately lead to the demise of the company’s image.  We should ask ourselves if the product really is great or if that is just a claim to get more money?  If being great is just a claim the next question is: is it worth it to be dishonest and ignore values to get what we want?  This decision between honesty and power is something many professionals have to face and we were able to learn this lesson with help from Machiavelli’s The Prince.

– Carissa Niederkorn, Deji Adeleke, Anna Kate Babnik, Tiffany Evans, & Katie Eagle

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4 thoughts on “The IMC War: Balancing Power and Values

  1. I think the idea/concept behind this book is very interesting. It is very true in this day and age that power and money are everything. Many measure their success on how powerful or wealthy they are. Unfortunately enough, many times, some people will go to whatever extremes necessary to reach their goal. This is especially prevelent in the sports and entertainment industry. Many people manipulate the system or participate in unethical or illegal actions in hope they do not get caught. More times than not, they are eventually exposed, and their reputations are hurt for the remainder of their career. In my own personal opinion, I feel that if you have to break rules, either in public or private, to reach where you are trying to go, it is not worth it in the end. This world would be a much better place if the values of honesty and integrity were considered staples of society and not optional things to follow.

  2. I have never read the book but I can’t bring myself to say that I agree with his teachings. There is so much corruption in the world and I feel that the teachings of Machiavelli would only increase that if people were to follow his advice for power. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with wanting to achieve power but I feel there is a certain way to gain it. People need to be guided by good values and morals in order to keep everything in check. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. People have to make the decision between power or honesty and sometimes they make the wrong choice.

  3. In a recent survey the top fortune 500 companies were asked what the most important values are when running their respected companies. The number one answer was integrity. People respect integrity and will learn to trust companies that are honest and straightforward in their dealings. It only takes one conspicuous act to to tarnish a companies image forever and these top companies realize this and put their companies integrity above all else. To them “The Prince” has no relevance in the modern day business world where scandals ruin billion dollar companies and information is transmitted instantly.

  4. Despite being written in 1513, I think the main issue in Machiavelli’s “The Prince” is something many of us are familiar with today. Should I do anything and everything necessary to reach my goal? Even if it is unethical? Often times, “moral ends can be corrupted by immoral means” (Jerold Auerbach) No matter how noble the ends (goals) are, sometimes the means of obtaining them are simply not acceptable. Machiavelli’s teachings, on the other hand, seem to value power over everything else (honesty, integrity, etc.) For him, there is no balance between morals and success — it is all about the latter.
    As students of communication and rhetoric, I think people often assume we are interested in persuading people at all costs. However, what we learn from teachers like Machiavelli is that everyone makes a choice somewhere along the line about how they will prioritize their goals and morals. For him, power comes first, and morals are no where to be seen, but this is just one very extreme use of rhetoric. In the contemporary world of IMC, this idea can be applied as we each make choices about how we will go about marketing ourselves, our brands, and our products. In a money driven society, what roles do morals play?

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