Case Number: 5-211-255, Year Published: 2011
HBS Number: KEL590
Google, China, International Negotiations, Conflict Resolution, Censorship, Crisis Management, Corporate Values, Ethics, Negotiating Teams, Negotiation Strategy, Chinese Government, Intra-organizational Negotiation , Cross-cultural Negotiation, Technology
The first across-the-table negotiation between Google and China concluded successfully in 2006, when Google received a license to establish a local domain (google.cn) targeted at Chinese Internet users and not subject to the “Great Firewall”. During these negotiations both Google and the Chinese government struggled to reach an outcome that would be acceptable to their constituents. Google was caught between pleasing its shareholders and preserving its reputation for free access to information, while China was balancing the desire for cutting-edge search technology and the concern that liberal access to information would undermine its political-economic model. In the end, the negotiation resulted in Google operating two domains in China: Google.com and Google.cn. On the .cn website, Google complied with Chinese legislation through self-censoring. Google’s search market share in China grew to about 36 percent at the end of 2009. In early 2010, Google announced that its corporate infrastructure had been the target of a series of China-based cyber attacks and accused the Chinese government of attempting to further limit free speech on the web. These incidents led to a public conflict and private negotiations between Google and the Chinese government, which culminated in July 2010 when the Chinese government renewed the google.cn license knowing that Google was redirecting all Chinese customers search to its google.hk.com site This case concerns the changes in Google and the Chinese government’s environment that led to Google withdrawing services from google.cn and the Chinese government saving face by renewing the google.cn license. Students will learn that across-the-table negotiations are often preceded by internal negotiations, based on conflicting interests within one party. The case is based on the publicly reported events surrounding two series of negotiations between the U.S. technology giant Google and the Chinese Government regarding Google’s license in China.
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