Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to undertake a Machiavellian analysis of the determinants of organisational change. It aims to present a model of how power, leaders and teams, rewards and discipline, and roles, norms and values, serve as drivers, enablers or inhibitors of organisational change.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper adopts the sixteenth century Machiavellian text The Prince as a lens through which to examine organisational change.
Findings – The paper concludes that Machiavellian thinking provides a valuable guide to the challenges and obstacles in negotiating organisational change and identifies the individual as occupying the central role in determining whether the change intervention will be accepted or rejected.
Originality/value – The longevity of Machiavellian thinking underlines the constancy of human behaviour and the relevance of age-old thinking in understanding and negotiating change in a complex fast-paced business environment.