John Robb: Bossnapping

Cultural Intelligence
John Robb
John Robb


Reuters.  Bossnapping returns to France.  The target?  A couple of unlucky Goodyear executives.  What’s bossnapping?  Here’s the entry for it in Wikipedia

Bossnapping:  a form of lock-in where employees detain management in the workplace, often in protest against lay-offs and redundancies, and has especially been carried out in France. The term gained wide usage in the media following a series of bossnapping incidents in the spring of 2009 in France where workers used the tactic in the context of widespread labor unrest resulting from the late 2000 recession. 

Where did the tactic originate?  Of course, kidnapping senior people in the opponents orginization has been around as long as warfare itself, however.  The popularization of using it to manipulate global media networks in a way that coerces a public company to change its behavior is new.

That method was perfected in the conflict sandbox of the Iraqi war back in 2004.

In 2004, Iraqi guerrillas began to target the employees of the business ventures that the US military outsourced operations to.  It was very effective (it drove up the costs and radically reduced the scope/span/rate of reconstruction).  The implication (as I wrote at the time) was that in order to this type of corporate disruption would eventually be used against executives as close to the boardroom as possible.  That occurred and it was proven successful in later years.

We’ll see much more of this as the old economy begins to depopulate the protected bureaucracies where so many still work…

PS:  France is early on this because they haven’t prosecuted anyone for the 2009 incidents and those events yielded positive outcomes for the union.  I suspect the US would treat it as terrorism and shoot everyone involved.