This case was prepared by Kirsten E. Martin, Assistant Professor of Business and Economics at the Catholic
University of America and Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics Fellow, to encourage classroom
discussion and not to illustrate effective or ineffective business decision making. This case is a condensed version of
Google, Inc. in China (BRI-1004) which includes more detail on the situation. Certain characters mentioned are
fictional to facilitate classroom discussion, and any resemblance to actual persons is coincidental. Copyright
by the Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics (www.corporate-ethics.org). Reproduction and use for
direct educational purposes permitted. All other rights reserved
GOOGLE, INC., IN CHINA (Condensed)
Key Case Facts
Tom MacLean, director of International Business at Google, Inc.; managed the decision to
physically enter Chinese territory through the development of Google.cn—a search engine
residing in China. The search results of Google.cn were subject to Chinese filtering and
monitoring, which drew ire from nongovernmental organizations,
academics, press, and the
general public, culminating in a U.S. congressional hearing on February 15, 2005.
Company was ridiculed for “Don’t be evil” motto, and critics blamed Google for supporting
a country with a totalitarian regime, known for its numerous human-rights violations.
MacLean won support from the top management team by suggesting that Google, Inc.,
maintain both the unfiltered Chinese-language site (Google.com) with the filtered China-
based site (Google.cn).
The decision to develop Google.cn was complicated. In the words of Elliot Schrage,
Google’s vice president of Global Communications and Public Affairs:
[Google, Inc., faced a choice to] compromise our mission by failing to serve our
users in China or compromise our mission by entering China and complying with
Chinese laws that require us to censor search results.… Based on what we know
today and what we see in China, we believe our decision to launch the Google.cn
service in addition to our Google.com service is a reasonable one, better for
Chinese users and better for Google.… Self-censorship, like that which we are
now required to perform in China, is something that conflicts deeply with our core
principles.… This was not something we did enthusiastically or something that
we’re proud of at all.
The Internet in China