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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  1. Imad Qureshi says:

    Risk is too high if you are caught.

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  2. 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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  3. GS says:

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

    You never know…..

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  4. 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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  5. Andrea says:

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

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  6. 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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  7. MichaelInAZ says:

    Maybe because most CEOs aren’t really that special?

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  8. 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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