Google in China
Business Case Analysis
Facts of the Case:
Key - Stick to the most important facts presented (Point form is expectable ONLY in this section) ▪ Case is based on the negotiation that took place between Google Inc. and the Chinese government to allow their citizens access to Chinese version of Google.com (Google.cn) ▪ Google looking at vast business opportunities in China as a long-term strategy. Due to its population size and market potential, China has become an attractive market for many U.S. and multinational companies ▪ In order to establish a presence in China, Google had to agree to allow Chinese government to censor access to certain sites ▪ Google take great satisfaction in being different from other corporations; strives towards the highest possible standard of ethical business conduct. Most important asset is their reputation (“Don’t be evil” motto); expressed mission is to “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” ▪ In 2006, China attempted to move away from socialism and declared itself committed to economic reform and to opening itself to the outside world. Expanded personal freedoms for its citizens, however, China still maintained a harsh enforcement of political and religious regulations ▪ Membership in the WTO put China back on the map as a possible market for Western companies ▪ Yahoo! first American Internet company to enter China in 1999. Uncensored Internet information was not welcomed by Chinese authorities and government officials immediately implemented rules restricting access to content deemed improper or harmful, and monitored Internet usage of its citizens ▪ Included many private citizens in their surveillance efforts, and implemented public propaganda campaigns to create atmosphere of fear from reprisal and self-censorship ▪ Tom MacLean director of International Business for Google Inc. for last nine months; starting to worry about his job security after a storm of criticism resulting from decision to agree to subject Google’s search results to Chinese authority scrutiny ▪ Felt that he and his team had been mindful of political pitfalls they could face in implementing their strategic plan in China; level and intensity of subsequent backlash and disapproval was unexpected ▪ Elliot Schrage, Google’s vice president of Global Communications and Public Affairs, defended Google’s censorship agreement as necessary, while at the same time admitting decision conflicted deeply with Google’s core principles, and that it was something they were not proud of ▪ Congressional hearing planted seeds of doubt in MacLean about Google in China decision. Starting to question if Google was endorsing censorship by conforming to the Chinese authorities’ rules, if Google was acting as a tool for the government, if Chinese citizens were actually better off after Google’s decision to enter China, and whether censorship decision did go against their stated corporate philosophy ▪ Top leadership claim Google’s decision was made based on information currently available at the time; were not afraid to revisit that decision if necessary ▪ MacLean has only one day before attending a meeting where he would be questioned on the development and implementation of Google’s China strategy and asked for his suggestions for future courses of action ▪ MacLean under a lot of pressure to act, but his instinct is to stick by his strategy and let it play out a bit longer; hoping that Senate hearing would be the last bit of publicity for a while
Problem Identification: (Write in complete sentences from now on)
Key - Identify major problem(s) and any minor contributing problem(s) ▪ Google’s launching of Google China and agreeing with Chinese government’s censorship demands has tarnished their reputation and public image (major) ▪ Lots of bad publicity generated globally; makes them look like hypocrites ▪ Caught between alienation of a...
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