Managing Across Culture

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Pages: 4

Category: Business and Industry

Date Submitted: 11/21/2012 07:51 PM

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Feng Yu Chang

Case Study:

Google China was launched in 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweigh Google’s discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. After four years of successful operation and a sizable share of the search market in China, Google shocked the world with an announcement in January of 2010 that it would no longer censor search results in China and would consider leaving the country entirely.

The surprise announcement was triggered by a series of highly sophisticated and targeted attacks on Google’s corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. It soon became apparent to Google that the primary goal of the attackers was to access the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Although Google has not revealed the specific people behind these attacks, it is widely believed that the Chinese government was involved. For its part, the Chinese government has denied any involvement.

These attacks and surveillances combined with the Chinese government’s attempts to further limit free speech on the web have challenged Google’s fundamental operating principals. Google was not only concerned about China's restrictions on its search results, but was also concerned about the co-opting of Google technology to use in surveillance and entrapment of political dissidents (not to mention from a commercial standpoint the potential theft of sensitive intellectual property). No longer was Google just complicit in restricted information flow; it could be a new tool for the persecution of Chinese activists if Google decided to do nothing.

In the end, the Chinese government refused to acquiesce to Google’s demand and Google began redirecting users from its Chinese domain address,, to a website in Hong Kong whose search results Google doesn't filter. The fact that Google's overseas Web...