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QuestionHow are Google’s business objectives are affected by ethical considerations?
AnswerGoogle define their mission as being “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” (Google, 2016a, p.1), which they support with a corporate philosophy of “10 things we know to be true” (Google, 2016b, p.1). These are, in essence, a suite of business objectives. These principles include a variation on their original mission which was “Don't be evil” (Morozov, 2011, p.1). Amongst others, Google assert that it is possible “to make money without being evil” (Google, 2016b, p.1), and they also assert that democracy is an effective principle on the web. Google also take great care to explain that advertising content is only valuable if it is relevant to the end user, as otherwise they believe that it will damage the integrity of the search results. Although Google strive to position themselves as a socially responsible and ethical business, conscious of the impact of their size and influence, to say nothing of their global reach, they are not without criticism. These criticisms relate to the fact that at times their guiding principles are directly at odds with the cultural and social norms of some countries which they seek to penetrate (Stevens et al., 2016). It raises questions as to whether it is fair or right that Google seek to supersede established principles in other parts of the world. This paradox demonstrates that it can be challenging to reconcile competing stakeholder perspectives under the banner of business ethics. Awareness of these challenges is something which Google must take into consideration when reviewing their business principles, which they claim they do on a regular basis (Google, 2016b). This is an issue which is likely to become more significant as globalisation highlights the increasing likelihood of homogenisation, potentially eroding cultural norms and identity from different parts of the world.
ReferencesGoogle (2016a) About [online] available at https://www.google.com/about/ retrieved 1st Nov 2016. Google (2016b) Our Philosophy [online] https://www.google.com/about/company/philosophy/ retrieved 1st Nov 2016. Morozov, E., (2011) Don't be evil [online] available at http://hci.stanford.edu/courses/cs047n/readings/morozov-google-evil.pdf retrieved 1st Nov 2016. Stevens, C. E., Xie, E., and Peng, M. W., (2016) Toward a legitimacy‐based view of political risk: The case of Google and Yahoo in China. Strategic Management Journal, 37(5), 945-963.
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