Lessons for leaders: Positive organization studies meets Niccolò Machiavelli

Miguel Pina e Cunha, Stewart Clegg, Arménio Rego

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Machiavelli should be a central and canonical text for management education, even in the age of positive organizational literatures. We give it this role by considering the case of the virtuous leader. Our proposition is simple: virtuous leaders live and act, like anybody else, in the power circuits that are constitutive of reality. Therefore, they participate in power dynamics that sometimes make them face the need to decide in ways that do not correspond to normative positive precepts. Machiavelli shows that even virtuous leaders must do what needs to be done, while trying to preserve one's values and move in the direction of noble, high purpose goals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)450-465
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Leadership
  • Machiavelli
  • Power
  • Virtues
  • Virtuous leaders


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