Violence Against Executives: Are You Worried?

Last Updated Apr 2, 2009 10:21 AM EDT

Recent news about violence against companies and executives might leave many business people a little uneasy of what may be coming. Bad economies always lead to a rise in domestic and other types of violence, experts say. But it's corporate symbols that seem to be the latest targets as people vent their frustration over job loss, evaporated savings and Wall Street greed.

The recent headlines:

  • "Protesters have stormed the Royal Bank of Scotland in London as thousands of people descended on the City ahead of the G20 summit of world leaders. Demonstrators launched missiles and forced their way into the bank after clashes with police in the capital." BBC
  • "Angry French workers facing layoffs at a Caterpillar factory briefly detained four of their bosses Tuesday at the U.S. manufacturer's plant in the Alps to protest job cuts, a regional official said. It is the third time in the past few weeks that French workers have seized their bosses to protest job losses stemming from the global economic crisis." AP
  • "The anger in the threats against AIG executives is palpable. 'Get the bonus, we will get your children,' someone identified only as "Jacob the Killer" hauntingly writes in an e-mail. His is one of dozens of threats against AIG and its employees that were obtained from Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's office under a Freedom of Information Act request." NBC Connecticut
From what I've read, most of the hostility seems aimed at firms and execs in the financial sector, but the troubles in France suggest the possibility that violence could be extended to other industries, especially if layoffs continue to climb.

As a business person, does this have you worried on a personal level?

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.