Faking heroism: A mechanism of ‘Mafia Offer

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

The Rise and Future of Heroism Science


School of Business and Law


Al-Hameed, L. (2016). Faking heroism: A mechanism of ‘Mafia Offer’ [Paper presentation]. The Rise and Future of Heroism Science, 11-12 July 2016, Murdoch University, Australia.


Businesses strive to establish a strong position within their market using a unique quality that differentiates them from their competitors. To achieve this goal, some businesses use ‘twisted means’, often perceived as deceptive actions. Deception has always been a part of human nature, regardless of the ethicality of such human attitude, and the level of harm that might result as an outcome. One of the motives of adopting such attitude or action is to enhance the public perception by drawing a heroic image for the person or the organisation; this is what I call ‘faking heroism’.

In this conceptual paper, I argue that faking heroism is a mechanism of the ‘Mafia Offer’, which, according to the Theory of Constraint (TOC), is an offer that cannot be rejected by customers and the competitors cannot match. This mechanism has been used for different motives, but mainly – based on what has been observed and anecdotal evidence – to achieve the goal of making higher profits than competitors.

This paper will explore the concept of the Mafia Offer using recent examples of faked heroism, such as the Lance Armstrong doping scandal in cycling, and Volkswagen’s faked environmentally friendly image. Unfortunately the scandals of athletes and organisations practicing fraudulent actions are continuing to rise, and organisations and individuals are using creative means and innovative techniques to fake heroism. These cases open the debate about how the current social structure and context supports fake heroism – even for a while – and consider strategies to prevent organisations utilising this kind of Mafia Offer. 21 Mafia offer is a strategy to lead the market, and it can be triggered by different mechanisms. The mechanism of faking heroism has catastrophic implications in the long term for business success and customers’ confidence.

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