Why Don't Business Leaders Assassinate Competitors?

Billions of dollars are at stake in the global market, and cutthroat competition often crosses the line into illegality. Corporate espionage is commonplace.

But why stop at stealing your competitor’s ideas? It’s relatively easy to hire an assassin, and research shows that the death of a CEO can cause marked decline in profits. So, the Overcoming Bias blog asks a good question: Why don’t more business leaders have each other assassinated?

Is it for the same reason that international custom expressly prohibits political assassinations?

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COMMENTS: 79


  1. Nicholas Weaver says:

    Mutually assured destruction…

    Remember, if you hire an assasin to kill a competitor, you now have set the precident that your competitor’s successor can hire an assasin to kill you.

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  2. JJK says:

    Smithsonian magazine recently ran an article about a company that makes synthetic diamonds (that is, real diamonds made in the laboratory). The guy who runs the company is secretive about exactly where his plant is located, and otherwise takes measures to try and avoid too much surveillance. (Frankly, I’m surprised he along with the magazine article; I’d have expected him to shun that type of publicity.)

    The reason seems to be that he’s afraid of being assassinated by De Beers, whose diamond quasi-monopoly is worth billions of $/year and who have always ruthlessly guarded their commercial monopoly against competitors. It would probably make good business sense for them to bump him off, a fact that has not escaped his attention.

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  3. elhondo says:

    Common interest.

    Company A pays to kill Company B CEO. Stock dives, but competition is still valid, and stock rebounds.

    Board of Directors figures out that CEO’s aren’t actually that important and lowers pay of Company A’s CEO.

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  4. Paula Hall says:

    Perhaps because to assassinate one’s competitors is as abject an admission of incompetence that could be made. Such a “businessman” admits by such an action that he feels helpless to truly compete on the basis of offering value to the market; and that his only hope of making profits is to physically destroy people who are better at his job than he is, and then expropriate what they’ve produced.

    How many real businessmen want to publicize their incompetence? The only kind of “businessman” who would do this is one who feels that he cannot survive with his mind as well as he can by brute force. But that’s not a businessman, that’s a mobster.

    As an aside — why do you think it is the case that mobsters and gangsters are always trying to extort “respect” at gunpoint? It’s because they know that, by living as a looter and not a producer, they have made public their self-evaluation as helpless to earn true respect through the voluntary approbation of others. They actually hold themselves in contempt; and try to fool themselves that those who fear them actually “respect” them.

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  5. mmm says:

    Because getting caught authorizing the assassination would be doubly harmful to your company, your freedom, and the business environment?

    No one, but the two companies, really cares about corporate espionage. The “costs” are mostly internal. And, the benefits are potentially good for society as a whole.

    Murder leaves a decidedly different taste in one’s mouth. Murder not only deprives a competitor’s COMPANY of value–if we assume the above factoid is correct–but actually imposes significant costs on the person on the receiving end of the bullet.

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  6. BT says:

    What about fear of being exposed. I think a company being convicted of or associated with the killing a competitor’s CEO would suffer major devastation, both in terms of reputation as well as financial losses. It is probably not worth it,

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  7. Mike says:

    Do you really think the amount of money at stake is what causes people to abandon their morality? No, a man may kill another over $5.

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  8. Ty says:

    I would say it is as simple as CEO’s and business leaders not being invested in the well being of their company enough to risk going to jail. In this case the incentive not to commit murder far outweighs the benefits. Anyone at a company in the position to organize some sort of corporate assassination probably makes enough that the incentive not to go to jail is great enough to prevent this. Also assuming that people have the common decency to not let any business struggle get to that point..

    None of that argument works unless all involved are rational though, which assuredly isn’t always the case

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  9. Imad Qureshi says:

    Risk is too high if you are caught.

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  10. Robert says:

    Well, if we are going down this dark road, then what about this: I’ve frequently wondered why museums don’t steal from each other. Paid thieves, elaborate heists, the works. Sure, it might be tacky at first—just imagine the first headline: LOURVE STEALS MICHAELANGELO’S DAVID, Museum Director “Very Pleased”—but once everyone got into the spirit of things it could be wonderful sport.

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  11. GS says:

    Maybe Microsoft GAVE Steve Jobs cancer….or whatever he has.

    You never know…..

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  12. Tom says:

    Assuming that a company would mainly target its more successful competitors:

    Company X arranges the murder of Company Y’s CEO.

    Company Y get a ton of free publicity (logo and business in on the first page of every business section in the country, maybe world) because of the dead CEO and then potentially throughout the whole replacement process as a company that it is getting back on its feet. Most consumers will learn to associate Company Y with the industry because of the publicity that extended beyond industry channels.

    Might be a stretch, might be one of many factors.

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  13. Andrea says:

    Who says this doesn’t happen? Haven’t you seen “Michael Clayton”?

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  14. discordian says:

    Because CEO’s don’t really matter in large companies in that regard.

    Kill the CEO, the company goes on.

    Hell, kill the CEO, CFO, VPs and board and the company would still go on.

    There is no reward for tremendous risk.

    Business assassinations are more likely to occur from within – not from competition.

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  15. MichaelInAZ says:

    Maybe because most CEOs aren’t really that special?

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  16. NM says:

    I find the question quite trivial from a class (call me a ùarxist if you like) point of view. When you’re a CEO, it’s virtually impossible to fall significantly down the social ladder. You can be as incompetent as can possibly be, destroy dozens of billions of dollars of value, ruin the lives of millions of people, yet you will always be in the top 0.001%. You will always be able to afford housekeeping staff, private school for the kids, and so on; you just have to save just a tiny bit.

    The only exception to this rule is major criminal wrongdoings. And even then the bar is quite high; for example you can indirectly kill millions of people (see big tobacco) and still live to enjoy your country club and yachts. But get your hands too dirty, and you could lose that. Killing a competitor will give you only so much; on the order of twice as much what you already have.

    Contrast this to a starving junkie; starting from $0, snatching $100 from an old lady is infinity times more.

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  17. Mike B says:

    I think that for the most part CEO’s are either fungible, immaterial or even counter-productive to the operations of a company. The CEO works with a whole staff of C-level officers who serve at the pleasure of a board of directors who represent owners/shareholders. Corporations are notorious for their diffusion of responsibility so targeted attacks against a single person would cause more trouble than it is worth.

    Now, there are many situations where, like dictatorships, the corporation and its power is an extension of a CEO or owner. Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdoch are good examples. In those cases cutting off the head would effectively cripple the company or at least set it on a path of long term decline. In these cases assassination might actually make sense.

    The real problem is that it is very hard to pull off a covert assassination and not get caught. Without the resources and mentality of a nation-state intelligence entity a corporation would have a great deal of trouble keeping its hands clean. Even the rumour of involvement could render a company vulnerable to reprisals to those with political power.

    It will be interesting to see what happens when corporate entities begin to take over nation states and become state-level actors themselves.

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  18. Uber Desi says:

    Simple. *Most* business decisions are logical, while those related to a nation are ideological.

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  19. Sean says:

    I think it comes down to risk/benefit.

    If I’m a CEO and I order the assassination of a competitor, I’m assuming all the risk of being caught. However, the benefit of the damage to the targeted competitor is shared among all other competitors in that space. I’m taking all the risk, but I share the benefits.

    On the other hand, if I order my CFO to cook the books I’m still assuming the risk of getting caught and thrown in jail. However, this time the benefit is exclusively mine (and my company’s). Nobody else benefits from my illegal act and the risk I’m taking.

    Factor in the chances of being caught and its not worth it to have somebody assassinated. You can get a bigger bang for your risk-buck elsewhere.

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  20. cy says:

    Paula, as a key part of an assassination is keeping the identity of the responsible party secret, why would businesses or executives be worried about “publicizing their incompetence”?

    In the event that their responsibility for the assassination becomes public, people’s knowing of their incompetence (in business or assassination) would be the least of their worries.

    I think Nicholas has it. As soon as one businessman goes after another, they all become fair game.

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  21. Appetite says:

    I think the following arguments are the best ones:

    1) CEOs are paid handsomely whether they fail or succeed

    2) CEOs probably have more respect for each other being in the same class. I have no doubt that major corporations order the murders of ‘little’ people that might lead to a hit in their stock. Look at Ford and Chile for example. How many union leaders do you think have been murdered by corporations?

    I think this question is posed in a way to suggest that business leaders are irrationally moral, but I just don’t buy it. They tend to take more weaselly approaches to immorality such as instituting policies that revoke the insurance coverage of cancer patients on mere technicalities. And they prefer to hide beneath the corporate veil than to do anything that would incriminate them personally.

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  22. Robin says:

    I agree with Sean’s (#19) line of reasoning, but it goes further. As a CEO ordering murder, I’m assuming all the risk personally. Even if none of my company’s competitors benefit, how does the CEO benefit enough personally to take such a risk? Not only do I risk legal punishment, but I’ve also essentially put a price on my head and perhaps on my family as well. The disincentives seem to far our way the incentives to me. If you don’t kill anyone, you’ll still probably be rich.

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  23. Jack Stromberg says:

    Well, here’s an assasination of a former partner/wife that happened in Los Angeles last week:

    http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2008/08/three-million-in-gold-bullion-seized-at.html

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  24. Danny L. McDaniel says:

    Businessmen never took the idea into consideration until this article. Now they will reverse engineer the idea and assasinations will be the hotest trend in global business, which will soon be incorporated into MBA degree programs.

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  25. Jared says:

    Let’s also not forget that international (or even simply domestic) business is NOT a zero sum game. Causing the death of one of your competitors’ CEO (and the ensuing stock price drop) might hurt that particular company, but there is no guarantee that their loss will translate into gains for your company. This is true even in a system where there is only one other competitor. It doesn’t make sense to spend your own capital, even at the cut-rates that hit-men seem to be advertising at for no guaranteed returns on that investment.

    A real world example of this would be sabotaging the gasoline of a single race car in a NASCAR race. Sure, you’ll hurt that particular car’s chance of doing well in that particular race, but it won’t make your own car run any faster, there are dozens of other drivers to race against still, and there are likely dozens of races in a season. It also lowers the potential level of competition, reducing interest in the sport as a whole, possibly diminishing future investments for your own race team.

    Granted, assassinating NASCAR drivers would probably make me start watching that sport, so who knows.

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  26. Richard says:

    Most companies would not benefit that much from short term disruption caused sabotaging a competitor, through assassination or otherwise.

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  27. tracy says:

    I suppose in really desperate times, maybe. But how desperate can you be?

    But for otherwise normal days, hiring assassins is like opening the floodgates of no holds barred competition. Once you’ve killed someone, you probably wouldn’t mind destroying the competition’s computer data systems, killing high-ranking employees (after the first one, marginal costs of the next few aren’t that much probably), committing arson to their office building/s, etc. Sure, businesses shouldn’t be tightly regulated to remain competitive, but I’m confident we can draw the line to exclude the above.

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  28. frankenduf says:

    this post is kinda ironic in lieu of the drastic damage that CEO financiers have done to their corporations leading to this recession- Merrill-Lynch lost billions under its CEO before giving him an xtra 120 million to leave- so now the strategy would be to handcuff the CEO to the board table in order to bring complete ruin to the corporation

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  29. Dave says:

    Would it not make more sense for a Board to authorize the assasination of their own CEO, rather than the CEO of another corp? This could save on the golden parachute costs, could get them a new CEO without having to admit a hiring mistake. As noted above, these benefits would flow primarily to the board rather than diffusely to all competitors.

    Also – surely there is a MacBeth like tale out there of some CFO offing the CEO to get access to the big office. Shakespeare is too accurate for this to have never happened!

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  30. Christopher W. says:

    Another factor: The average CEO’s tenure is measured in years, not decades. They may not identify with the company enough to indulge in the risks outlined above.

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  31. Winston says:

    The linked study says that CEO deaths “are strongly correlated with declines in firm operating profitability, investment and sales growth.” None of these offers immediate benefit to competitors.

    The first two are really internal matters — the company is not as efficient, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t just as successful against the competition’s products. In the long term, these things might benefit the competitor. Then again, they might not.

    “Reduced sales growth” does not mean fewer sales, but that sales are increasing at a slower rate than they had been increasing. Again, in the long term, this might open up an opportunity for the competitor but there’s really no certainty that the competition will benefit — much less a specific competitor.

    What the competition really wants is to take market share away and that’s not what’s happening here. The small benefits that this paper suggest result from the death of a CEO could be achieved many other ways, probably with a greater degree of certainty.

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  32. Don says:

    the paper cited on the influence of deaths of CEOs does not reflect death by murder, so these may have two different effects in terms of publicity.

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  33. Rev Matt says:

    Robert Aspirin wrote a great book with this as the premise back in the 80′s called The Cold Cash Wars. It is set in a not so distant future where national governments are largely for show and multinational corporations have their own hit squads and armies that fight pitched battles over market share. I believe it’s out of print but worth reading if you can find it.

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  34. Dennis says:

    The answer to this question is quite easy: Because they’re only good at white collar crime.

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  35. Daniel Polónia says:

    Character assassination is performed everyday, right before our eyes, every time a company talks about a competitor … product, CEO, CFO, whatever.

    And sometimes, it does not even takes competition … Shakespeare explains that pretty well!

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  36. sygyzy says:

    It’s funny you point out that political assassinations are illegal. As if all countries follow custom …

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  37. Matt says:

    Because most CEOs aren’t worth the millions they earn and any empty suit could take over the same position? It would be like assassinating a janitor.

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  38. JB says:

    Haha I can’t believe nobody suggested that most CEOs – just like most other people – are generally decent people that don’t murder?

    Besides, they have more to lose if they get caught.

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  39. Dan says:

    I imagine that CEO’s rationalize white collar crime by thinking everyone does it. Everyone knows that CEO assasinations aren’t happening all the time.

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  40. Sean says:

    Because causing pain is so much more enjoyable than eliminating it altogether.

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  41. Charles says:

    CEOs are pretty much replaceable – the link between CEO and company performance is fairly weak.

    There is little likelihood that even if one competitor is weakened, that this would benefit another. After all, perfect competition assumes many price-taking firms with low barriers to entry. Another firm would just take its place.

    Big Cost, little benefit.

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  42. Robert says:

    I was thinking about this while pursuing a career in trading at one of the exchanges in Chicago. Much like drug dealers, there is a large supply of people wanting to “make it to the top” causing the wage of a trading assistant to plummet ($350/week). The success rate is very low. Drug dealers tend to murder each other to eliminate competition but also to get ‘street credit’ and reputation. (Sounds like Freakonomics?). So I guess in order to get a good trading position, I need to knock off all the other college graduates?

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  43. echoclerk says:

    The problem is that it would be difficult for an entire board of directors or ‘company’ itself to all go along with an assasination. (high risk of a whistle blower exposing the company). If it were instigated by an individual (CEO say), the rewards for the assasination are not that great: They are already paid handsomely enough as it is and yet would bear all the costs of being caught personally.

    whereas, I imagine most corporate espionage is performed with the consent of the company directors as a whole, or most of them, and the costs would be shared by the company (by way of copyright/patent penalties).

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  44. Sandi Mays says:

    #3 made me laugh!

    For public companies, when one stock in a sector drops the others are likely to also take a short term hit. If CEO’s are being murdered, this could easily cause a sell off.

    A security company CEO might see huge benefit by killing a few random CEO’s. Think of the money companies would spend on security if they thought their leaders were in danger.

    I worked at a company where the CEO received a death threat. The company then spent a ton of money outfitting the executive offices with bullet proof glass and armed guards.

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  45. Sean Barrett says:

    I really need a concise summary of the paper before drawing conclusions, but here’s a few things that turned out from searching it (I didn’t actually even skim it):

    “larger estimated effects are found for own CEO deaths (Column IV), then for child and spouse deaths (Column V) and finally for parents and parents-in-law (Column VI”

    Now, correlation is not causation, but the paper is being assumed to show causation. We can probably strongly argue that child and parent deaths are probably likely to be causative of the declines. However, it is less clear for “own” CEO deaths (and hence possibly for spouse deaths) that correlation connects to causation. If a CEO knows that a company is looking at a downward trend, this could affect the CEO’s health, both indirectly and directly: searches for “suicide” turn up no hits at all in the paper, so they presumably didn’t control for it and we have no idea how much of the effect, if any, it causes.

    Of course none of this really matters for assassination-decision-making, since what matters is the perception of the potential assassin-hiree, not the reality determined by academics (until that becomes the public perception).

    As to how significant the effect is, “Industry-adjusted

    operating returns on assets (OROA) falls by 0.9 percentage points using a two-year window

    around managerial deaths. This decline is equivalent to an 11 percent decline in OROA.”. I guess an 11% decline just isn’t worth it. That’s not going to translate into vastly more market share for your own company or anything.

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  46. janya says:

    Murder is harder than it looks, but the effect achieved by killing a business rival is very limited.

    CEOs are replaceable, if one company goes out of business because of murder, another competitor will surely emerge soon.

    Hiring an assassin is not easy – more money do not necessarily buy higher qualification. There is asymmetrical information – if a guy is a known killer, he is not very good; and if he is good there is no way to tell if he has any experience.

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  47. scott says:

    I’d echo JB’s thoughts (#38).

    Everyone here seems so cynical… You don’t even have to stretch so far as to call CEOs decent people.

    You just have to accept that they feel queasy about killing people, which for most of us is sufficient (although by no means the only) incentive not to do it.

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  48. Punditus Maximus says:

    Class solidarity. If you look at CEOs (who serve on one another’s boards, etc.) as a class of persons who are playing a cooperative-competitive game, where they in general conspire to rent seek and occasionally defect to successfully run a company, the system in general makes a lot more sense.

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  49. GG says:

    Assassinations happen all the time, but the fallen CEO’s are just replaced by look-alike cyborgs. Obviously, this is to hide the entire ordeal and hold onto consumer and investor confidence. I believe we’re currently on Steve Jobs 4.0, if I’m not mistaken. Or as he is affectionately referred to at the office, iSteve.

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  50. Jrm says:

    what do you prefer when underperforming the market :

    1/ lose your job, and reap a $235M golden handshake

    2/ death sentence for having killed your competitor

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  51. Caleb says:

    I hate to sound like one of the tinfoil hat crowd but economic assassinations aren’t all that unheard of. They’re less common in the states where its simply harder to get away with: more security, less corrupt police, more stable govt. etc.

    But there were a rash of businessmen assassinated in the Ukraine last year and although they weren’t CEO’s its extremely dangerous to be a union organizer in Colombia these days.

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  52. GW says:

    Interesting that morality has so little to do with the responses here. I would say that business assasinations happen less than business espionage for the same reason that murder happens less than theft. Not only are the penalties for the former far stiffer (the cost/benefit issue), most people perceive murder as ethically unacceptable under almost any circumstances.

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  53. urb antig says:

    Well, if all these CEOs are so easily interchangeable, which fools decide that such CEOs are, supposedly, worth so much money. Just think how many more pennies could be spread to aged grandmothers for their ROI.

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  54. El Christador says:

    Well, if all these CEOs are so easily interchangeable, which fools decide that such CEOs are, supposedly, worth so much money.

    Isn’t that the people on the board? And aren’t all the CEOs all sitting on each other’s boards?

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  55. Alan says:

    Dilbert addressed this: the trouble with hiring a hitman is that you have to have him killed to cover your tracks; then you need a hitman to kill the guy who killed the hitman. It’s an endless cycle!

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  56. Naim says:

    They do assassinate eachother. But they’re usually in the mafia, not on wall street.

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  57. unstable equilibrium says:

    I’d thought about this for a while, and am not convinced by any resolutions that I’ve heard from my friends

    I like to think about the related issue of why hitmen don’t just finance themselves by shorting the stocks of companies whose officers they would hit (or go long on companies whose CEOs are incompetent, and then arrange for a “change of management”).

    After all, these individuals already have the relevant expertise in house, while most firms would either have to diversify or outsource the work to such a specialized firm, anyway.

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  58. Scott says:

    Funny how nobody included the “Godfather” in this analysis — American business at the extreme. The CEOs (Dons) are eliminated when necessary — whether it is for power, money or both. Modern day CEOs are not as ruthless as the Corleones and thus the risk of getting caught (legal system/morality) is a big factor. Remember that classic scene when Michael killed his rivals while his son was baptized — he renounced Satan even though he simultaneously had other mafia members assassinated.

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  59. mannyv says:

    The reason it doesn’t happen is people in the US don’t really think about it. Given the huge number of factors that go into the success or failure of a business, the removal of the CEO won’t have much impact in most companies.

    The fixation on the CEO shows a willful ignorance about how a business actually operates. For the vast majority of companies in the US, the executive team is more important in many ways than the CEO. The CEO may set the direction, but he doesn’t necessarily steer the ship.

    In many other parts of the world (and in some US businesses) the CEO is the linchpin of the organization. For those CEOs, I’m sure they’re aware of the issues.

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  60. David says:

    For the same reason drug dealers avoid shooting up someone else’s neighborhood? It was covered by Levitt’s first TED speech, I don’t recall if it was also mentioned in Freakonomics. (probably)

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  61. Jason Malloy says:

    It’s relatively easy to hire an assassin…

    You lost me at this premise. Your link does not support this assertion. First of all the story was from Mexico, where it’s stated homicides routinely go unsolved. Did anybody check the business death rate in Mexico; it would not be surprising if it was higher.

    Second, the police didn’t know if the advertisement was authentic. This, I imagine, would be a major obstacle to hiring an assassin — for the company to hire the assassin, his services and reputation have to be somehow advertised enough for them to know about him. But if his reputation and deeds are this open and verifiable, then he could also easily be caught and charged for his crimes.

    What is more surprising to me is that self-motivated political assassins are not more common. It would seemingly take only a single man with a minimal amount of training and conviction to take out a cruel dictator like Mugabe, Chavez, the late Castro, etc. It amazes me that there are more low-status sociopaths seeking a name by shooting their innocent class-mates, then by attempting to move world history.

    It would have taken a single politically inflamed farmhand with a clear shot to prevent WWII. Why aren’t there more such people?

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  62. Yury says:

    Who says they don’t?

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  63. Carey says:

    Given that commercial assassinations are an actual established practice in Russia this suggests a promising topic for a business PhD dissertation – comparing the economic, legal and social environments in Russia vs the West that make assassination a comparatively attractive technique in Russia, but not elsewhere (but, it is not unknown even in the U.S. though typically with smaller businesses, for example where partners are targeted).

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  64. Kais Salhut says:

    Two possible reasons:

    1) Assassinating a political figure creates a legacy out of him and draws in more followers to his cause (e.g. Hamas in Palestine). Assassinating a CEO creates a legacy out of his company and could draw more attention and sympathy to the deceased’s company.

    2) Billions of dollars are at stake between mature industries where the number of players is thin. Assassinating the CEO of company X in a market dominated by X and Y will immediately point the fingers at company Y. Hence, if companies want to venture into assassinations then they are probably better off assassinating (sacrificing) their own CEO or an executive to draw more attention and conspiracy theories to their own favor.

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  65. doug says:

    All CEO’s take ethics in B-school, right?

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  66. Bill McGonigle says:

    That they don’t says something about CEO’s relative judgement of the value of other CEO’s.

    Psychoanalyze amongst yourselves.

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  67. Edward O'Hara says:

    It is extremely vital to your organization that you have a very healthy and strong friendship your biggest and baddest (as the public sees) business competitors. Amicable war. Organised chaos. Bonds between CEO’s created all of the biggest empires that you see now. Just read history and learn.

    A CEO who kills another CEO, has completely misunderstood one very important point.

    “Keep your enemies as close as possible, and alive”

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  68. Conor says:

    1) There is no statute of limitations for murder.

    2) There is less violence today. (See Pinker’s speech at TED).

    There is a huge deterrent to murder in this country. There is less violence today. Correlation, causation, it doesn’t matter. Less people are killed overall.

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  69. st says:

    Why perform most effective cost cutting work for your competitor?

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  70. Taed says:

    To be devil’s advocate, the premise of the question might not actually be valid. Perhaps CEOs (and other key players) actually ARE assassinated, but they just are really good at it and so they don’t get caught and make it appear to be a natural/accidental/self-inflicted death/public shaming/incapacitation.

    Or one could also look at it with a paranoid slant — if they aren’t being assassinated, then that must be because there’s no real competition because it’s all ultimately owned by the same entity. That it, Microsoft and Apple merely “put on airs” about competing as they are both owned/controlled by the Bavarian Illuminati (or insert your favorite world-controlling entity here).

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  71. Manuel says:

    I think that the real reason is that killing CEOs or other high profile persons is really really hard. Finding someone to do it for you must be even harder, especially if you are a well-known CEO yourself. How would you even find a professional killer? It’s not like you can just put out an ad on craigslist. And as a well-known CEO you cant hang around some seedy underground bars all the time – the 100 hour week wont allow it.

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  72. Frank says:

    Why murder the CEO of a competitor when a CEO can estroy the competition the old fashioned way – by merger or acquisition?

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  73. Robert says:

    While CEOs may or may not be responcible for their company’s success, there is no evidence that I know of that one company’s success is really the cause of another company’s problems. The cause is usually the product or the marketing or the customers. Killing a competing CEO entails at least some risk of criminal sanction but offers no real likelyhood of improved performance. A new CEO would take over, but his company’s product or marketing or the customers’ preference would remain. So, it is more sensible to attack the product, improve your marketing or try something new on the customers. (Companies have killed their customers from time to time, but they inveitably tell the jury it was an accident. Thinking asbestos and tobacco here.)

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  74. dhruv says:

    Most CEO’s are in public companies and were hired by the board. Why would s/he risk everything for a company that really isn’t his/hers?

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  75. BH says:

    I’ve finished college in Russia in late 90′s. During one of the economics classes lecturer seriously made a statement that nowadays it is unspoken law of not to give lend money or invest into other party’s business. Because when it is time to pay back it is easier and cheaper and to hire an assasin and get creditor killed then actually pay the debt.

    In my opinion in this country infrastructure of law enforcement evolved to an extent when such behavior is extremely risky. Some information will be unveiled because there is always powerful enough group for whom releasing the infromation is advantageous.

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  76. Nikhil Dhingra says:

    It could be possibly due to the fact that in this era of cut throat competition your businesses competitor’s idea combined with your own can possibly result in an awesome business plan and can ultimately become a dark horse in this business race .

    It’s the activity of your closest competitor that can motivate you to go that extra mile and become more hard working than you are at present.

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  77. Cristin says:

    Perhaps they are worried about what it will do to their life insurance premiums.

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  78. John and Mary says:

    I do not agree with the post 70

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  79. Ask later says:

    The death of a c.e.o. wouldn’t make headlines unless the family “cried out” to the media.Especially in corporate America where ceo’s are paid to do the work for the owner… frankly the only ones that would be making or taking hits would be owners or ceo’s that have major company sway who most likly aren’t even in the united states..

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