International Management Ethics and Values Thesis

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International Management Ethics & Values

"Don't be evil:" Corporate responsibility in action at Google

The Google corporate philosophy: Overview

'Don't be evil.' This colloquial phrase, often quoted by company employees and executives, succinctly sums up the Google Corporation's philosophy of social responsibility to the community and its stated commitment to the triple threes of 'planet, people, and profit.' It strives to help its employees become more creative and to enrich their vocational lives, as well as the lives of the consumers the search engine serves as part of its mission ("Company Overview," Google Corporation, 2009) Google's stated purpose is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. It tries to behave in an ecologically-friendly manner as well as make a profit for shareholders. "Google's utility and ease of use have made it one of the world's best-known brands almost entirely through word of mouth from satisfied users. As a business, Google generates revenue by providing advertisers with the opportunity to deliver measurable, cost-effective online advertising that is relevant to the information displayed on any given page" ("Company Overview," Google Corporation, 2009).Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Thesis on International Management Ethics and Values Assignment

Google makes an equal commitment to the people that work for the company as the people that use the search engine itself. Google urges the best job candidates to become a part of the Google team, not just because of the money or benefits they can earn but because of the service its product conveys to the world: "People in every country and every language use our products. As such we think, act, and work globally -- just our little contribution to making the world a better place" ("Jobs," Google Corporation, 2009). Employees are even allowed to do their own research on company equipment and time, in the belief that more creativity on the part of the individual will generate new knowledge and ultimately a new source of profits for Google. Google's message on its corporate informational website is that individuals who work for them can make a financial and personal profit, enjoy themselves creatively, and yet also feel as if they are accomplishing a social good for others. Google offers the best of all worlds to employees and shareholders alike, and improves the world in the process.

Section 2: Planet -- Google's greenness

"In 2004, when Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin wrote to prospective shareholders about their vision for the company, they outlined a commitment to contribute significant resources, including 1% of Google's equity and profits in some form, as well as employee time, to address some of the world's most urgent problems" (How Google.org, Google Corporation, 2009). However, although Google is a virtual tool, it admits that it does use carbon-based energy in its day-to-day operations. So it is striving to reduce its energy consumption and drain upon the planet. It has resolved to become carbon neutral and is focusing on working towards a goal of making electricity from renewable sources, including generating plug-in vehicles powered by electricity. To make a better planet, deploying the minds of the best people at and outside the company is always the focus in its approach -- it even solicits contributions on its website to achieve carbon neutrality. "Do you have investment, R&D or project opportunities? If so, please send your contact information and proposals" ("Plug into a greener grid," Google Corporation, 2009).

Section 3: People -- Google's goodness to its people

This solicitous approach to encourage employee brainstorming about going green is keeping with the company's general ethos of honoring human talent. "Google is not a conventional company, and we don't intend to become one. True, we share attributes with the world's most successful organizations -- a focus on innovation and smart business practices comes to mind -- but even as we continue to grow, we're committed to retaining a small-company feel. At Google, we know that every employee has something important to say, and that every employee is integral to our success. We provide individually-tailored compensation packages that can be comprised of competitive salary, bonus, and equity components, along with the opportunity to earn further financial bonuses and rewards" ("Life at Google, Google Corporation, 2009).

Google is generous to its employees, but not simply in conventional ways, such as giving them hefty paychecks, health insurance, and shares in the profitable company -- it is also generous in terms of the respect it shows towards its workers. The company offers free food (it boasts some of the finest workplace cafeterias in America), fitness classes, shuttle service from major transportation hubs, on-site oil changes, car washes, dry cleaning services, massages, a fully-equipped gym with fitness classes, hair stylists -- even a bike repair shop ("Jobs," Google Corporation, 2009). The bike repair and the pooled transportation also make coming to work greener for employees (as well as have the added benefit of ensuring employees do not have an excuse about traffic slowing down their commute)!

Section 4: Profit

Of course, there is a method behind Google's generous madness -- creating 'Camp Google' is designed to encourage employees to want to spend as much time as possible within its confines. Friendships and work relationships are easily combined in such an atmosphere, and makes working at the company almost like an extension of college. At Google, work and play are not mutually exclusive, but because work feels like play, employees stay longer at their jobs. Consumers are also more apt to feel good using its service: "Companies that have invested in creating a strong social responsibility profile get much higher levels of support than other companies. Nearly 70% (65.7%) of the U.S. public would recommend the top 20 socially responsible companies to others, compared to 25.9% recommending the bottom 20. Nearly 30% say they would not recommend companies that are not seen as socially responsible" (Lukovitz 2008). Google consistently ranks in the lists of the most socially responsible companies in the world.

Employees, users, and shareholders believe that by making information accessible through the World Wide Web, Google generates social good, even to those who cannot, for example, afford to buy many books or access real-world libraries. In 2002, Google's Book Search aimed to make every book in the English language accessible and text-searchable to every reader able to get online. "Anyone with an Internet connection could be transformed into an armchair researcher, with the world's library at his or her fingertips" (Gibson 2008)

Section 5: Concerns

Google has become so successful in solidifying its reputation as a socially responsible company; it has spawned a few inevitable naysayers amongst the competition. With the current proposed Microsoft-Yahoo stock merger, Google has even less potential competition as a search engine and information source than ever before -- in the form only one, inferior conglomerate. Microsoft knows this and has tried to block Google's progress at every turn. For example, Google Books, Google's digital warehousing of texts online has been opposed by Amazon and the newly merged Microsoft and Yahoo. "These major technological players are uniting to prevent Google achieving a monopoly on what could potentially be the world's largest virtual library," and instead "support the Open Book Alliance launched by the Internet Archive. The alliance aims to provide competition to Google's increasing dominance as a host of digitized works, and opposes the legal settlement that will allow publishers to register works with Google and receive compensation for each subsequent sale" ("Google's digital library, Big Mouth Media, 2009).

Google's creation of a digital library meant that "to realize this goal, Google had to machine-scan the texts of every book it would include. And because scanning is a kind of copying, a question arose: Did Google need a license -- or, rather, millions of licenses -- from those who own the copyrights to the books? Google originally maintained that no licenses were needed" (Gibson 2008). But it eventually Google declined to press its case on the basis of a fair use suit, and agreed to grant copyright fees to authors for publishing the works on Google books, giving a financial incentive for writers to bow in deference to Google. The dominance of Google through this media gives unquestioned, some would say frightening and even 'evil' power in the informational marketplace -- even while the company says that increasing access to knowledge generates social good.

Still, Microsoft's business model, for all of the generosity of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, is hardly saintly. Google has been able to generate a tremendous profit for shareholders yet satisfying customers "on the strength of its technology, not by leveraging an installed user base as Microsoft had done with desktop applications" (Fawzi 2006). "However, this is changing as Google leverages its dominant market share and brand to move into the browser space, by co-funding Firefox (where Google search has been the default search engine) and now by launching their own browser, Google Chrome, which uses Google as the default search engine and includes a hidden installer for Google services on the desktop" (Fawzi 2006).

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