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Google in China Case Study


Googlein China Case Study

Googlein China Case Study


Understandingsituations and environment for the decision made by a company isimportant in managing the risks involved with the decision. This isthe element that gives companies the ability to defend and justifytheir business decisions despite different response from theirinternal and external environmental factors. In line with this stand,this paper seeks to understand the issues and circumstancessurrounding Google’s operation in China that led to the decisionsthe internet giant made. In addition, this paper seeks to exploreoperational, cultural, social, economic and political complexitiessurrounding the case and illustrate response actions taken by Googlein the cases. Moreover, this paper will discuss the pros and cons ofthe decision to evaluate the relevance and the rationality of thedecision.


Asan internet company, Google’s business is to provide search engineservices and related information technology services to the world.Google’s entry into China meant that it would provide searchresults to Chinese citizens that would provide them with full accessto international information. This would open them to new frontiersin terms of ideologies and business opportunities. The company was,however restricted by the Chinese government from venturing into fullbusiness operations like it operates in other countries (Compeau,Fang &amp Yin, 2010). This meant that search results from Googlewere to be monitored and filtered by the Chinese government. Thismeant that the content shown in Chinese would be what is sanctionedby the government as the appropriate content to show.

Theintention of the Chinese government was to block it citizens fromaccessing any material that was perceived to be a threat toideologies of the Communist Party. The Chinese government did notapprove Google due to its ability to let searchers access cachedwebsites which are sites that have blocked or deleted. In suchregulation, the Chinese government had blocked its citizens fromaccessing other information that is important for intellectual growth(Compeau, Fang &amp Yin, 2010). This was against the philosophy ofGoogle that shaped the company’s mission to provide access toinformation to the world.

Issuesin the Case

Theissue around the decision by Google in China is internet regulationand sanction by governments. Internationally, debate surrounds theneed for internet freedom and the antagonism played a role in thesupport or critique for the decisions of Google in China. Those forinternet regulation were in support of the actions by Google tocomply with the restrictions laid down by the Chinese government. Onthe other hand, those against internet regulation were the maincritiques of Google’s actions to comply with a totalitariangovernment (Compeau, Fang &amp Yin, 2010). Instead, the opponents ofthe decision called for business pull out of China by Google. Despitethe situation, Google made the decisions based on the business,political and social environment dynamics of the Chinese market andnot by the opinion of the American scenario.

Thesecond issue is the preference of international responsibilities bycompanies to international rights and freedoms. This presented thequestion as to whether companies should comply with directives bytotalitarian governments such as the Chinese and communist regimes.Google was criticized of bending its philosophy to accommodate thedemands by a government that had n respect for human rights andfreedoms of accessing and sharing information (Compeau, Fang &ampYin, 2010). It was hypothesized that the Chinese government regulatedthe internet in order to protect its population from content,information and ideologies that it deemed to be western andcapitalistic. Particularly, the government was against Google’sfull operations because the company would open Chinese civilians tothe world information. This brought the question of whether thecompany was supposed to comply with the restrictions or protestagainst the government by pulling out of China.

Complexitiesin Google’s Case

Theeconomic environment for Google surrounded the establishment ofbusiness operations and internet services to the vast Chinese market.This was a great opportunity for Google in its quest to connect theworld by providing world information to all. In line with its missionand vision, Google was committed to provide its services to theChinese population by providing access of information to Chinese andChinese information to the world (Compeau, Fang &amp Yin, 2010). Toachieve business goals, Google was looking at the population of Chinawith purely business perspectives and not political or ideologicalintents. This is because setting the operations would open businessoperations that would complete its world coverage.

Socialand religious environment also impacted on the complexity of theconflict between Google and Chinese government. Internationally,issues of social and religions concerns as well as public securityhave been raised as the reasons for government regulation of theinternet. However, for the Chinese government, the case wasdifferent. The Chinese government was perceived by the internationalcommunity to have regulated the internet as a way of keeping itscitizens against western ideas. This explains why the conflictagainst Google was a matter of international scrutiny, particularlythe western countries. As Google was intentioned to make the world aglobal village, the new cross-national conflict is becoming the majorconcern when handling related internet issues (Zheng 2007). This ledto a conviction amongst the global community that the conflictbetween Google and China was a cause of global concern.

ThePolitical environment was the main element of concern that was shapedby the restriction of the internet by the Chinese government, andregulates internet companies operating in China. Google was not theonly internet company that was facing challenges in China. Othercompanies were also restricted as the Chinese government took extremeprotectionist policies. For instance, the government blocked orderedChinese internet Service providers to block access western media likeCNN and social sites that had western content (Compeau, Fang &ampYin, 2010).

Bysanctioning internet companies, the Chinese government restrictionspresented operational complexities for the use of the internet bothby internet companies and users. The major limitation for Google tooperate in China was the censorship of its results by the Chinesegovernment, which limited the efficiency of its products such asGoogle search. This was due to cross-national conflict that China hadwith Western Countries in relation to adoption of western culture.The cross-national conflict was being experienced, worldwide, but thecase of Google dealings with China was a world concern on governmentcontrol over the internet.

Analysisof Google’s Decisions

Googlewas still determined to provide its core business of providing searchengine and related online services to the Chinese market. In 2001,Google established online services with Chinese-language. However,this service was unexpectedly prohibited by the Chinese government in2002 (Compeau, Fang &amp Yin, 2010). The probable rationale forChinese sanction was that Google’s search outcomes could bring someinformation that the Chinese government does not want it open to thepublic (Martin 2008). This called for a response by Google that wasdetermined to venture into the vast Chinese market.

Tocounter the prohibition, Google, considered resolving the standoff byintroducing a company that the Chinese could appreciate and identifywith. In 2006, Google launched google.cn, a Chinese version of Googlesearch engine (Compeau, Fang &amp Yin, 2010). According to Compeau,Fang and Yin (2010), this company was self-censored to comply withthe demands and laws of the Chinese government. After launching theChinese search version, the internet company was criticized byseveral groups for joining forces with the Chinese government toregulate the internet.

Theestablishment of google.cn was a contradiction of Google’s ownsphilosophy as well as its core mission of organizing and making worldinformation accessible. This presented a debate among itself and inthe public domain questioning its decision. Google had to explain itsdecision to comply with the Chinese government. This was a sensitivecase for a company that was trying to avoid was being caught up inbattle of ideologies that was evidenced in the world at the time. Inaddition, Google had to act appropriately to avoid cases ofalienation of the Chinese market from its fold.

Thedecisions by Google led to criticism from western public who wereconcerned of the company`s position in relation to the internetsanction debate. However, the company also took efforts to upholdstability between itself and the concerned countries. But it wasunclear of the value system Google had to follow between the valuesof its home country or the Chinese values where it planned to run abusiness. The conflict was just because the internet provides crucialmodernity information which the Chinese government wanted to blockfrom the general public (Compeau, Fang &amp Yin, 2010).

Prosand Cons of Google’s Decisions

Google’sdecisions made it stronger in the international community in the longterm than the criticism it received for the short term. The decisionto provide internet services to the Chinese market by establishinggoogle.cn presents a case for multinationals to face challenges.According to Harris et al (2012), many companies that operate ininternational markets fear to venture in countries that are involvedin social and ideological antagonism with western countries. Byventuring into China and taking the steps that Google took, thecompany made a clear statement to the world that information accessis important. Dealing in such a country with a restrictive andtotalitarian regime was an advantage to Google that presented it as aglobal company.

Incomplying with Chinese laws and establishing google.cn, Google wasable to relatively serve the Chinese internet users while partlyfulfilling its mission. It was to the advantage of future internetthe environment that Google took bold steps of giving the Chinesegovernment options. The steps by Google also showed that there is aneed for a free society that enjoyed a liberal environment forcompanies and information sharing (Harris, Kuivalainen &ampStoyanova, 2012). The decisions by Google showed that excessiverestriction is harmful to the business environment in any country.Particularly, the company illustrated that the conflict, itoperations and Chinese government policies were a matter ofdifferences in ideologies and not business.

However,the main disadvantage of the decision by Google was it perceivedcompromise of its own philosophy and values to comply with arestrictive government. The steps gave a negative image of thecompany to the public, who felt that goggle was complacent. Inaddition, many people felt that Google was applying double standardsto fit authoritarian demands from undemocratic countries. The worlddid not judge Google based on the business environment, but on thevalues of a company.

Inaddition, the decision by Google to establish google.cn was seen asthe company’s endorsement of internet regulation. This led tonegative controversy directed towards the company that it was givingin to strict regulation. The controversy was that Google was aninternet company that allowed restriction of its operating space.Many people who believe that the internet should not be regulated bythe government felt that Google’s compliance with Chinese laws wasa betrayal of the anti-regulation campaign.


Dueto internet regulation by the Chinese government, Google’s entryinto China was prohibited and sanctioned especially Google searchservices. However, the determination to venture the vast market sawthe establishment of google.cn a search engine company customizedfor China and complies with the country’s laws. In complying withthe restrictive laws of the Chinese government, Google was able toserve Chinese internet users as well as fulfill its mission. However,this was interpreted by the international market as a compromise ofits own mission and values. The debate between the balance between acompany’s mission and compliance with opposing opinion washighlighted by the company’s actions. From the case, Google’sdecisions were appropriate and served both the need of the users andthe company’s business strategy.


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