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. doug says:

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

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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. st says:

    Why perform most effective cost cutting work for your competitor?

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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. 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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