Google in China |
To Enter, Or Not to Enter – Which Was the Right Ethical Decision? |
Intro & Company Background
In today’s globalized marketplace, ethical dilemmas arise when multinational corporations enter foreign markets with vastly different cultural norms. While the growing number of multinational companies has created some homogeny of business practices, ethical ambiguity resides in many corporate decisions. The United Nations estimates that the number of American businesses in foreign countries has skyrocketed from 37,000 in the early 1990s to 70,000 by 2004. This blending of borders has increased the role of ethics in an organization’s cost benefit analysis when evaluating new markets. Executives must weigh potential profit against compromising corporate integrity and a possible public relation quandary.
Google’s twelve year history provides a particularly intriguing snapshot of the ethical predicaments faced by companies born in the new era of globalization. The internet search engine was founded in 1998 by Sergey Brin and Larry Page, two Stanford MBA students, as part of a class project and quickly became an international entity. Today, Google is the largest internet information provider in the world. The site provides targeted search results from billions of web pages based on a proprietary algorithm called PageRank. Google’s unique corporate culture is consistently praised for maintaining employees’ quality of life, with staff perks ranging from campus amenities such as volleyball courts and hair salons to expansive gourmet cafeterias where all the food available is free. Google employees are called “Googlers” and company terms are referred to as “Googlisms”. However, the most prominent slogan in the company, and an important element of the culture, is “Don’t be evil”, found in the company’s code of conduct. This motto reminds employees to serve the end user rather than themselves.
Google’s ethical proclamation was...