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Apple Inc.’s Adoption of Machiavelli’s Ideas Essay

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Updated: Jul 21st, 2021

The ideas of The Prince have been instrumental in enhancing the leadership styles of various leaders in different fields. The book expresses a number of themes that are critical in ensuring an organization realizes the desired goals and objectives. Machiavelli was of the view that laws play an important role in effective running of state affairs. In his view, “the presence of the sound military forces indicates the presence of sound laws,” which means an organization must have efficient rules and regulations to perform efficiently. In the entire book, Machiavelli explains the best ways that a state can wage war against aggressors. His ideas are important in designing business strategies because he advises top executives to prepare adequately in dealing with competition.

Apple Corporation has been applying the ideas of Machiavelli in strengthening its performance in the market and improving the market share. This paper looks at the ways in which Apple has been applying Machiavelli’s principles. The organization relied on the leadership of Steve Jobs, who employed various leadership styles and techniques, including autocratic and transformational leadership models, to be where it is now. The current CEO, Tim Cook, follows the models that Jobs applied, but tries to readjust them to suit the market environment. Therefore, Apple has been successful in dealing with the turbulent market because of the ability of its leadership to apply the Machiavellian strategies.

Apple Corporation borrows heavily the ideas of Machiavelli in coping with the cutthroat competition that characterize the modern markets. Machiavelli gave the prince a number of options on how to strengthen the city, the ways of handling the subjects in the newly acquired city, and the ways of averting domestic revolution that have the capabilities of impeding goal attainment. Similarly, Apple is inspired to fortify its markets, acquire the new ones, and ensure competitors do not penetrate its important markets. In the book, Machiavelli instructed the prince to rely on diplomacy, capitalize on domestic politics, employ tactical strategies, master the geography, and conduct historical analysis to outdo other kingdoms. In the same way, Apple focuses on forming new partnerships through constant negotiations, application of advanced technologies, understanding the domestic market, and carrying out market research to understand the performance of the products and services. In other words, Machiavelli suggested that the prince should employ all available tactics to achieve greatness for the city because the end will always justify the means. Similarly, Apple’s strategy suggests that it applies various business strategies to achieve the major goals and objectives.

Apple’s success is attributable to five major factors, one of them being experience. The company has been in the industry at least for fifteen years, which gives them an advantage over entrants and competitors. The management has adequate knowledge that is critical in dealing with the challenges of the technology market. In particular, the top employees are fully aware of the demands and desires of the consumers and they will always develop products that satisfy consumers’ needs. Based on this, the company has experience in dealing with competition. Steve Jobs was highly effective in ensuring the company achieves the objectives because he had worked in the industry for several years.

The board of directors settled on Jobs as the chief executive officer because of his long service in the industry. This strategy aimed at dealing with challenges of competition and innovation. The ideas of Machiavelli influenced the directors in appointing Jobs as the CEO, as he was believed to be the prince (a transitional leader) who would deal with any threats that would impede goal realization. Steve Jobs was a leader that always inspired by Machiavelli’s ideas because he capitalized in the weaknesses of the competitors to ensure the company was ahead technology. He developed creative and innovative tactics to frustrate the efforts of competitors. While other industry players, such as Samsung and Nokia, introduced complex products in the market, Steve Jobs insisted on simplicity meaning that he believed in Machiavelli’s idea suggesting, “A prince must have no other objective, no other thought, nor take up any profession but that of war” (Machiavelli 47).

The prince should keep off from unnecessary hatred through establishing strong relationships with his people to remain in power. Apple’s current and previous CEOS ensured that they do not hold grudge with any employee. In particular, Steve Jobs was aware of this fact and he went ahead to introduce managerial changes that encouraged various stakeholders to offer the best to the company. Just as Machiavelli advised the prince to utilize cruelty in enforcing state laws, Steve Jobs used it to achieve greatness for the company. Machiavelli called on the prince to prevent hatred, as this would compromise long-term goodwill of the governance. According to Machiavelli, the prince needs the population to survive from domestic rebellion and foreign belligerence. Based on this, confiscation of property and abolition of traditional structures is discouraged.

Similarly, Apple’s leadership has been avoiding confrontation with various stakeholders, including the government and employees. For Steve Jobs, he prevented conflicts with employees by setting up a powerful human resource department to handle employee complaints, facilitate personal development, and career advancement. Machiavelli stressed the important of goodwill because it only plays a role in stabilizing the supremacy of the prince, but it does not facilitate happiness among members of the public. Steve Jobs enjoyed overwhelming support in the company since he feared for his innovative and leadership skills to an extent of becoming the most powerful global business leader (McCray 248).

Apple’s competitors have failed completely in applying innovation because the term is often misinterpreted. While the company’s competitors claim to be innovative in their value statements, mission and operational principles, they fail to capture the important aspects. According to Rahe, innovation is expensive and organizations always misinterpret it, as it does not entail introduction of new products and services (Rahe 28). For Apple’s competitors, innovation entails adopting of new marketing strategies that incorporate the social media. For Apple Corporation, innovation is concerned with improving the already existing strategies, products, and operational techniques. Apple understands that, if it has to be innovative, it has to make things better for various stakeholders. The first step towards realization of innovation entails understanding the nature of human beings.

Machiavelli observed that, “love endures by a bond which men, being scoundrels, may break whenever it serves their advantage to do so, but fear is supported by the dread of pain, which is ever present” (Machiavelli 78). The philosopher found that human beings have certain special traits that are inseparable from their nature since they are self-centered, even though they might be willing to fulfill the interests of others at times. Since Apple is aware of this reality, it has always taken caution in dealing with the turbulent market. Samsung and Nokia are some of the competitors that pose serious threats to the company, but application of Machiavellian ideas play an important role in ensuring the company remains competitive.

The company has moved on to form strong partnerships with stakeholders, the community, and the government to prevent conflict escalation. “Whenever an individual makes a decision to isolate him or herself, chances of accessing information in limited yet it has known that information is power” (Fischer 89). Apple persuades its staff to interact with the community, as they might come across valuable information that will lead to the development of new technologies. This explains the reason why Apple is always in touch with people, especially distributors of products, suppliers of important products, and partners. Steve Jobs was a common person in society who would interact with anyone.

The organization empowers its workers to achieve their higher needs by adopting their ideas and developing them into complex technologies. Machiavelli observed that individuals who receive power are ambitious. They are not like common citizens who are satisfied with the status quo. Machiavelli advised the prince to offer special services to his people because they will feel obliged to serve his interests. Similarly, Apple has been rewarding various stakeholders, such as community, employees, owners, and suppliers with special services, both financial and non-financial, which have played a major role in establishing strong bonds between them and the company.

According to Machiavelli, the prince has to make friends with the most powerful. He noted that, “as the princes cannot help being hated by someone, they ought to endeavor with the utmost diligence to avoid the hatred of the most powerful” (Machiavelli 103). Enemies play a special role strategy formulation, but the organization must always try to avoid the wrath of the might in society. Apple is always keen on negotiating with the government and following the legal provisions to prevent conflicts. The philosopher suggested that the prince should think of doing something good sometimes. Machiavelli observed that, “ it is unnecessary for a prince to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite” (Machiavelli 116). Even though Apple applies various strategies in dealing with different people, it does good things at times. For instance, it sponsors various government projects related technological development, as well as giving back to society through corporate social responsibility strategies.

While many analysts consider Apple’s management to be observant of business ethics, the company has never acted so for the sake of virtues, but instead it is one of the strategies aimed at advancing its expansion strategy. Whenever Apple wants to introduce something new in the market, it catches people off guard in the sense that it does not let them know their strategy (Peterson 32). Machiavelli opined that the prince should be unpredictable, as this is likely to maintain his power. A company with predictable strategy has lesser chances of success because business is a poker game meaning hiding the true thought is paramount. In other words, the organization has to be unpredictable in dealing with various stakeholders. Apple has never wanted its competitors to guess what intends to introduce in the market. Apple managed to achieve its desired ambitions by safeguarding the technology it applied in producing goods. The top management at Apple knew that exposing technology to competitors is risky because it allows development of counterstrategies. When computers had become dull because of their huge sizes, Steve Jobs and his team developed a colorful iMac that turned out to be a bestseller globally.

Machiavelli instructed the prince to be careful when dealing with issues because aggressors were everywhere waiting patiently for the opportunity to overthrow him. Similarly, Apple has always acted as if competitors were ready to take over its rightful position in the market. Machiavelli observed that the ruler should forever watch his back since the closest partner might cause havoc. The company is apprehensive of the junior managers with radical ideas and has always moved in to utilize their skills while rewarding them accordingly (He 121). Under the leadership of Steve Jobs and the current CEO, Tim Cook, the company does not allow the innovative and highly talented employees to leave without proper agreements. The company produces goods and services that are appealing to people’s emotions and passions. In politics, Machiavelli opined that passion rules over reason. This implies Apple has to win people’s emotions. The company understands this concept, as it has gone a notch higher to develop strategies to capture the attention of the important segment of the market. Apple is considered a wise company since it only associates with the best people and suppliers. The company has never made a mistake of relying on advisors, but instead it employs the best human resources in the market. This is in line with Machiavelli’s suggestion that the prince should only associate with the smart people.

Works Cited

Fischer, Markus. Well-ordered License: On the Unity of Machiavelli’s Thought. New York: Lexington Book, 2000. Print.

He, Newton. “How to Maintain Sustainable Competitive Advantages: Case Study on the Evolution of Organizational Strategic Management.” International Journal of Business Administration 3.5 (2013): 112-120. Print.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. New York: Digireads, 2009. Print.

McCray, James. “Crisis Management in Smart Phones: The Case of Nokia vs. Apple.”European Business Rview 23.3 (2011): 240-255. Print.

Peterson, Merton. “iPhone and Apps: The Brand Management and Marketing Aspects of Apple’s iPhone and Associated Applications Software.” Strategic Direction 27.3 (2012): 12-45. Print.

Rahe, Paul. Machiavelli’s Liberal Republican Legacy, Cambridge University Press, 2006. Print.

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