Googles Problems China Case Study


Case Details:

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Themes

International Business
Case Length:17 Pages
Period:2000-2010
Pub Date:2010
Teaching Note:Not Available
Organization:Google Inc
Industry:Internet Search
Countries :China, US

Abstract:

Google, the leading Internet search engine based in the US, started providing its services in China in the year 2000. Though the company became one of the leading search engines in the Chinese market, it started losing its market share rapidly to the local players like Baidu. In order to remain competitive, Google decided to launch a Chinese website www.google.cn and agreed to censor the content, in January 2006. Though Google was criticized by the industry experts for its decision to censor the content, the company defended its stance by claiming that providing censored results was better than not providing any details at all.

However, soon Google started facing problems, and its website was blocked several times for its quality of censorship, spreading obscene content etc.


The company remained second to Baidu in the local search engine market. Google's other services like YouTube, Blogger, and Picasa were also blocked. By the end of 2009, Google realized that its website was being attacked and the attacks originated in China. Google also found that Gmail accounts of some of the advocates of human rights in China were broken into. In January 2010, Google reported that its corporate infrastructure had been subjected to a targeted attack from China and announced that it would not censor its results any more and was ready to shut down its Chinese operations, if required. The case discusses in detail, Google's operations in China and the events leading to its decision to stop censoring the search results. It also examines the impact of this decision on Google's operations in China.

Issues:

» Understand the business and regulatory problems faced by multinational companies in China.

» Examine the reasons for media censorship in China and the methods used by the Chinese government to filter searches.

» Evaluate the growth opportunities of the Internet businesses in China.

» Analyze Google's operations in China and the reasons that led to the loss in its market share.

Contents:

Keywords:

Google Inc., Internet Freedom, Goojje, Cyber Attacks, Phishing, YouTube, Privacy Rights, Filtering Software, Global Search Engine Market, Filtering Search Results, Tiananmen Square, Digital Marketing, Global Communications, Chinese Regulations, Tracking GhostNet

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CASE STUDY – Google, Inc in China 

Google has implemented an aggressive strategy that seeks to duplicate its search engine success in the People’s Republic of China. The rapidly growing economy in China has presented a promising opportunity for Google to expand its search marking business the world’s largest population. However, China has strict censorship rules that filter much of the web content that is available on the Internet. The case study focuses on the challenges that Google must overcome in order to be successful in this emerging economy.

 

About this Essay

  • Student: Adam DeRosa.

  • Textbook: N/A

  • Course: Econ 102

  • About: Case Study of Google’s Operations in China

 

Legal, Cultural, and Ethical Challenges

Internet based companies face a wide range of hurdles when attempting to expand into China. Google learned this first hand when it was required to censor its search engine result pages that were displayed in Chinese territory. Since it was founded, the company has maintained a high ethical standard on search results by providing users with unbiased algorithm-driven content. The legal system in China requires that Internet companies remain transparent and provide access to the information that is being delivered to end-users. Officials in China have the ability to limit web content that is deemed negative to the government.

Google was ultimately left with two choices regarding operations in China – either censor the results in-house, or let the Chinese government censor the results. The corporate motto of Google is “Don’t be Evil”, which refers to a commitment to offer technology that is not manipulated by human biases.  In an effort to deliver better service to Chinese customers, Google decided to censor the results. Although this choice goes against their corporate values, it was a necessary step to deliver high quality search results to customers. Censoring the search results in advance allows the search engine to provide faster service. Also, Google made an effort to educate their customers about censorship in advance, which is a choice that reflects the high ethical standards of the company (Hill 2009).

Roles of the Host Government

The role of the Chinese government in regulating Internet activity is far more elaborate when compared to the United States. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are not considered inherent rights in the People’s Republic of China. Therefore, the country makes a strong effort to eliminate any web content that speaks negatively about the government or its policies. However, the government is also very inviting to foreign businesses that can help increase the prosperity of the growing economy. Google’s powerful technological advancements are something that the Chinese government could use to increase economic growth.  It is essential for the two parties to develop a strong relationship that is mutually beneficial. Google must invest heavily in developing new technology for the Chinese market and it must maintain positive relations with the host country to ensue long-term success.

Summary of Strategic and Operational Challenges

Any global business is bound to face a variety of strategic and operational challenges when expanding into a new foreign market. Google has a very complex collection of technology that must be tailored specifically for use by Chinese customers. Dealing with censorship requirements will create additional operating costs when compared to domestic operations. Google developed a physical operations center in Chinese territory to address the censorship challenges and build a product that can serve faster search results.

The company must also consider the competing search engines in the Chinese market, such as Baidu.com (Thompson, 2006). Domestic search companies have a competitive advantage when it comes to understanding the needs to their target customer base. Google will be required to perform a great deal of research to develop a product that will be welcomed by the Chinese people. The choice to set up a physical location in the country will help the Google become more competitive in the market.

In summary, the case study of Google in China provides an excellent example of the challenges that are faced by multinational firms. Internet technology is relatively new to the global economy and has experienced a unique set of challenges. In order to tap into the large Chinese market, Google was forced to stray from its traditional corporate values. However, the decision to be transparent about censorship tactics showed that company had very little flexibility in this matter. Google has able to overcome the challenges of international expansion and has developed a strong presence in the Chinese search market.

References

Hill, C.W.L. (2009). International Business. Competing in the Global Marketplace. Chapter 4 Case Study: Google In China.

Thompson, C. (2006). Google’s China problem (and China’s Google problem). The New York Times, 23.

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