Tom Maclean is in dilemma of identifying the possible appropriate course of action he would take, acknowledging all negative attention of Google, Inc. entering the Chinese territory through the development of Google.cn, a search engine residing in China. OBJECTIVES
* To provide the best possible course of action that is appropriate for Tom Maclean to communicate in the meeting with supervisor and his peer group.
* To assess thoroughly the factors and courses of action concerning Google.cn that may affect the company.
AREAS OF CONSIDERATION
1. Google had adopted the informal corporate motto “Don’t be evil” from the founders’ letter and also developed an ethical code of conduct for both internal and external audiences.
2. Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
3. China’s well-documented abuses of human rights are in violation of internationally recognized norms, stemming both from the authorities’ intolerance of dissent and the inadequacy of legal safeguards for basic freedoms. In 2005, China stepped up monitoring, harassment, intimidation, and arrest of journalists, Internet writers, defense lawyers, religious activists, and political dissidents.
4. China took a two-pronged approach to censoring the Internet. First, authorities restricted the production, development, and dissemination of improper content. Second, authorities monitored the perusal of content or receipt of information. “Harmful” content included material concerning democracy (e.g., freedom), religious cults (e.g., Falun Gong), or antigovernment protests (e.g., Tiananmen Square).
5. Google, Inc. first entered the Chinese market in early 2000 by creating a Chinese-language version of its home page. Google’s approach was to maintain a Chinese-language version of Google.com that was housed in the United States but could handle search requests originating within China.
6. In September 2002, Google.com was inaccessible for two weeks. When reinstated, it was slow and temperamental for all Chinese users and completely inaccessible for Chinese colleges and universities. According to Elliot Schrage, Google’s vice president of Global Communications and Public Affairs, “The average time to download a Google Web page was more than seven times slower than for Baidu, the leading Chinese search engine.”
7. In 2004, Google realized that its approach in China was not sustainable. Google was losing market share to Baidu, and others, including Yahoo! and Microsoft, were gaining ground through their local presence.
8. Tom MacLean, director of International Business at Google, Inc. managed the decision to physically enter Chinese territory through the development of Google.cn—a search engine residing in China. This product was “faster and more reliable, and provide more and better search results for all but a handful of politically sensitive subjects.”
9. The search results of Google.cn were subject to Chinese filtering and monitoring, which drew ire from nongovernmental organizations, academics, press, and the general public, culminating in a U.S. congressional hearing on February 15, 2005. Critics blamed Google for supporting a country with a totalitarian regime, known for its numerous human-rights violations.
10. Andrew McLaughlin, an attorney for Google, stated: “While removing search results is inconsistent with Google’s mission, providing no information … is more inconsistent with our mission.”
ALTERNATIVE COURSES OF ACTION
1. Remain in China through Google.cn and comply with Chinese laws and regulations that require the search results to be censored.
* There will be more global connections.
* The need for information across all borders.
* They will expand their market share.
* It does not conform to their mission.
* Criticisms of the society will continue to arise.
* Diminishing of free speech due to censorship.
2. Discontinue Google.cn and withdraw their stay in China
* It would give good impression to the public by not supporting a country with a totalitarian regime.
* Criticisms will diminish.
* They would be missing out one of the largest economies.
* Losing the Chinese market would hurt global strategy.
* It would decrease their market share.
* It will be more inconsistent to their mission.
After judging the internal and external factors, and considering Google’s stated commitment to organize and make information universally accessible and useful on the internet, I have come to the conclusion that Tom MacLean and Google, Inc. should choose to stay in China and respect the country’s custom and tradition. Google’s presence in China would undoubtedly have had a liberalizing influence in the country, while being a huge investment for its shareholders. The company would make more money, and keep the business and employees. It will make meaningful contributions to the overall expansion of access to information in China, though imperfect. As what Andrew McLaughlin said, while removing search results is inconsistent with Google’s mission, providing no information is more inconsistent with our mission.