Business Under Threat, Technology Under Attack, Ethics Under Fire: The Experience of Google in China
- First Online:
- 4k Downloads
Although not frequently regarded as controversial, digital communications industries continue to be sites of CSR conflicts, particularly internationally. Investigating CSR issues in the digital communications industry is pertinent because in addition to being one of the fastest growing industries, it has created a host of new CSR issues that require further attention. This case study examines an incident in early 2010, when Google Inc. China and the Chinese government reached an impasse that produced a large-scale, transnational conflict that reached a head ostensibly over state-mandated censorship, ultimately prompting Google to withdraw from the mainland Chinese market and redirect its activities to Hong Kong. We track Google’s experience in China, both to explore its strategies and to consider the implications for corporate social responsibility. We situate Google’s drastic decision to withdraw entirely from mainland China in the complex multiplicity of ethical, cultural, and political conflicts that affect this particular case. On a broader level, the incident raises the question of how multinational corporations (MNCs) can achieve corporate growth while negotiating the highly sensitive sociopolitical and institutional environments of foreign nations.
KeywordsGoogle China Corporate social responsibility Business ethic Internet search engine Privacy Copyright
- BBC. (2006). Why Google in China makes sense. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4654014.stm.
- BusinessWeek. (2007). Google’s new move in China. http://www.businessweek.com/blogs/asiatech/archives/2007/06/googles_new_mov.html. Accessed 22 June 2007.
- BusinessWeek. (2010). Google misses some estimates on costs of new markets (Update4). http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-04-16/google-misses-some-estimates-on-costs-of-new-markets-update4-.html. Accessed 16 April 2010.
- China Daily. (2010). New laws close in on hackers. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2010-02/02/content_9411056.htm. Accessed 2 February 2010.
- China Business News. (2010), Google’s engineering executive defected to baidu; partner agencies gradually leave. http://www.yicai.com/news/2010/04/338534.htm. Accessed 16 April 2010.
- China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). (2010). 25th statistical survey report on the Internet Development in China. http://www.cnnic.cn/html/Dir/2010/01/15/5767.htm. Accessed 15 January 2010.
- ComScore. (2010). ComScore reports global search market growth of 46 percent in 2009. http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2010/1/Global_Search_Market_Grows_46_Percent_in_2009.
- Donaldson, T., & Preston, L. E. (1995). The stakeholder theory of the corporation: concepts, evidence, and implications. Academy of Management Review, 20(1), 65–91.Google Scholar
- Financial Times. (2010). Blow to Google as executive defects to Baidu. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3492f8e8-4978-11df-9060-00144feab49a.html. Accessed 16 April 2010.
- Friedman, M. (1970). The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits. New York Times Magazine, September 13.Google Scholar
- Global Times. (2010). Google.cn Adds ICP license number to home. http://business.globaltimes.cn/industries/2010-07/548910.html.
- Iresearch. (2010). China’s search engine market grew to 6.95 billion RMB in 2009. http://news.iresearch.cn/viewpoints/108110.shtml. Accessed 5 January 2010.
- Lawrence, A. T. (2009). Google, Inc.: Figuring out how to deal with China. In E. Raufflet & A. J. Mills (Eds.), The dark side: Critical cases on the downside of business. Sheffield, U.K.: Greenleaf Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
- McAfee. (2010). Operation ‘Aurora’ hit Google, others. January 14, http://siblog.mcafee.com/cto/operation-%E2%80%9Caurora%E2%80%9D-hit-google-others/.
- Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China. (2007). China’s GDP grows annual average of 9.67 % from 1978 to 2006. http://english.mofcom.gov.cn/aarticle/counselorsreport/westernasiaandafricareport/200705/20070504638895.html.
- New York Times Magazine. (2005). Google official says frustration drove him from Microsoft. September 7, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/07/technology/07google.html?ex=1283745600&en=0a1f0870d0b111ef&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss.
- Politico. (2010). ‘Googling Obama’s China policy. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0110/31558.html. Accessed 15 January 2010.
- San Francisco Chronicle. (2007). Google tries to save a license in China. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/7087127.html.
- Sohu. (2007). Google Got ICP in China and overcame the identity crisis. http://it.sohu.com/20070719/n254443711.shtml. Accessed 9 July 2007.
- Stevenson, C. (2007). Breaching the great firewall: China’s internet censorship and the quest for freedom of expression in a connected world. Boston College International and Comparative Law Review, 30(2), 531–558.Google Scholar
- Tan, J. (2009). Institutional structure and firm social performance in transitional economies: evidence of multinational corporations in China. Journal of Business Ethics, 86(S2), 171–189.Google Scholar
- Tan, J., & Chow, I. H.-S. (2009). Isolating cultural and national influence on value and ethics: a test of competing hypotheses. Journal of Business Ethics, 88(S1), 197–210.Google Scholar
- Taubman, G. (1998). A not-so world wide web: the internet, China, and the challenges to nondemocratic rule. Political Communication, 15(2), 255–272.Google Scholar
- The Wall Street Journal. (2010). Letter from Google partners in China. http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2010/03/17/letter-from-google-partners-in-china/. Accessed 17 March 2010.
- Xinhua Net. (2010). China responded to Google incident: internet firms must operate legally. http://news.xinhuanet.com/fortune/2010-01/14/content_12810212.htm. Accessed 14 January 2010.
- Xinhua News Agency. (2009a). China’s leading stats boffin defends revision of 2007 GDP figures. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-01/22/content_10704884.htm.
- Xinhua News Agency. (2009b). China’s GDP grows by seven-year low of 9% in 2008. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-01/22/content_10700833.htm.
- Xinhua News Agency. (2010). China’s GDP expands 8.7 % in 2009. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/business/2010-01/21/c_13145167.htm.