Pyrrhic Victory – Definition

Cite this article as:"Pyrrhic Victory – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated December 2, 2019, last accessed October 21, 2020,


Pyrrhic Victory Definition

A pyrrhic victory refers to a type of victory that is recorded after significant loss or costs have been incurred. A victory that is achieved at a great cost or loss is a pyrrhic victory. When a  victory or success comes with excruciating pain for the victor or winner, it is a pyrrhic success or victory. For instance, in the case of a battle, when a side hs lost too many soldiers or many of them extremely injured which was almost taken for defeat before a victory is achieved, it is a pyrrhic victory.

A Little More on What is a Pyrrhic Victory

Typically,  a pyrrhic victory is a victory that comes with excruciating pain for the victor. If a victory is achieved after many resources, efforts and time have been lost, it is pyrrhic. Individuals, businesses and organizations can record pyrrhic victories, such victories come with no sense of achievement and sometimes when they are remembered, they come with pain or agony.

In business for example, if in a merger and acquisition transcation, the acquire went through multiple lawsuits which took time, money and resources before the merger and acquisition are eventually finalized, such success or victory is pyrrhic. Also, in a case when a business wins a lawsuit after the money and resources wasted on the lawsuit are beyond the judgment, such success if pyrrhic.

A Pyrrhic Victory in Court

On many occasions, pyrrhic victories have been recorded in court. A popular example was a lawsuit filed after the 2008 Financial crisis agsint the government of the United States by Hank Greenberg. Hank filed the lawsuit in 2011 accusing the U.S government of being harsher to his company in terms of the bailout when compare to other companies. Hank Greenberg was the CEO of the American International Group, and when the lawsuit was filed, not only did they spend much time in court, a lot of money was spent on the case. Despite that Greenberg was accorded victory, the victory was pyrrhic because its worth was far less than the resources spent on the case.

A Pyrrhic Victory in a Hostile Takeover

In business, pyrrhic victories are mostly recorded in hostile takeovers or mergers and acquisitions that took the acquirer too much stress, time and energy before the deal was sealed. In a breach of business contract, if the affected party suffered much agony before he got justice, such victory is pyrrhic.

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