Organisational cannibalism (my concept) is the destructive practice by organisations against other organisations through various channels such as “Takeover” – typically hostile takeovers – for the sole purpose of killing competition; and controlling talent to control potential and future competitors (threats). The motive is rather more self-preservation by all means necessary and available than (seeking) profit.
Organisational cannibalism should not to be confused with “corporate cannibalism” also known as “market cannibalism.”
The purpose and practice of organisational cannibalism is purely about – and therefore motivated by – survival based on the warped and false logic of domination. The warped and false logic is that, to survive – and the only way to survive – is by and through total domination and control. Co-existence is regarded and treated as unnecessary evil that must be avoided and/or annihilated. And to achieve that, requires the complete elimination of the existing competition and having the turf all under one organisation’s control. With such control secured, the controlling and dominating organisation reigns supreme. Think of a military conquest.
Consequently, the organisation has the power and privilege to decide and control who it allows on; and who it keeps off the turf. It has the power and privilege to decide and control both entry requirements and set standards (of operation). Think of Organisational rules and policies! It also effectively becomes the compliance watchdog, the compliance arbiter, the only consultant on compliance and other operations matters. If the analogy helps to visualise and understand the nature of such organisation, think of an ‘organisational dictatorship‘. A Caesarian empire!
The danger, however, is that an[y] organisation created with such approach and mindset; and with its conquest and success with time – and having no serious outside competition or threat – eventually grows and becomes insular, too arrogant, too bloated for its own survival.
Also typical and common with such organisation, is a strict, and many times, authoritarian top-down management regime designed to ensure that organisational decisions, usually by a small (cabal) committee of lifetime members, and actions are not challenged internally; not by anyone. Absolute loyalty, commitment and compliance to organisational (management) decisions from the organisation’s members is not only demanded but also indirectly enforced through and by reminding everybody of the existing stern measures against non-compliance and/or lack of commitment. Think of persuasive coercion [or coercive persuasion] with a smile. Or the inverted carrot and stick approach; whereby, the carrot is guaranteed, but the stick must come – be given – first.
However, such stifling atmosphere, will eventually create internal dissent, leading to factious relations within the organisation. Nothing is more threatening, damaging to an[y] organisation than internal dissent and factious relations. And moreover, the insensitive and heavy-handed response by (from) those in the organisation whose own decisions and subsequent actions (and behaviour) does more to cause internal dissent, factious relations than to ensure that the internal environment is structured well to prevent it; if not to foster and ensure there’s harmony in the organisation than there’s desire to engage in behaviour that hampers organisational interests.
With such toxic internal organisational relations (atmosphere); organisational disintegration from within is almost inevitable unless significant and structural changes are made within the organisation. The toxic internal organisational relations is therefore the organisation cannibalising itself from within, subsequently weakening itself. Putting itself in a vulnerable position for a takeover, even by a minor player it once considered inconsequential and posing no threat at all.
Under such circumstances, therefore, an inside perspective, that is, the perspective of (from) the organisational management; and an outside perspective – mainly from a potential takeover – of a self-cannibalising organisation are both going to be, unsurprisingly, diametrically at odds. The former will be consumed with self-preservation and treat the latter with hostility; while the latter will focus on cannibalising the former.
It’s the struggle for survival on the part of the former; faced with a two-pronged threat: one from within; and the other from the latter. While on the part of the latter, it is the struggle to exist, the struggle to have a right to exist, the struggle for a guaranteed meal. And that is – and can only be – possible by and through cannibalising, that is, a takeover of the former. The former has a lot more to lose, while the latter has the former to gain! It’s the struggle of ‘provide dinner or be dinner‘.
The best (and possibly only) way for the former to survive – to stave off the onslaught of the latter; and remain relevant in the realm of the turf, is by and through making concessions to the latter: offering to break the monopoly and having equal share of the turf. Both should also agree on the need for antitrust vigilance to avoid the likelihood of the current order of things to happen again in the future.