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Business Ethics Interim Project Report on Spying to Gain Competitive Advantage

Spying to Gain Competitive Advantage - An Ethical Dilemma Today, we are in an environment where every individual or entity seeks to outperform the other in the arena of delivering value. In the quest for competitive advantage, an individual or entity devises and employs various strategies, traditional as well as novel. Espionage is one such strategy that is increasingly being wielded to secure competitive advantage. It is a highly pervasive strategy given that it is employed by governments, defence forces, businesses, employees in an organization and even students in an educational institution, albeit at different scales. On the one hand, we have supporters of espionage claiming that this strategy is employed by one and all, and that it, therefore, merits validity. They also pose the argument that the ends that they seek to achieve through espionage are good and this makes their act of spying on their competitors ethical. However, on the other hand, opponents of the strategy of spying argue that it ultimately boils down to invading anothers privacy for ones own advantage and is, therefore, unjustifiable. In this project, we seek to answer the question, Do people instinctively resort to spying on others to gain competitive advantage? and the implications thereof, especially for management of organizations.

Literature Review

Title: - Review of "Lone Survivor" By: - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal, American Combat Hero Link: - http://www.wmarkbrooks.com/2009/11/confessions-of-a-corporate-spy-gotethics.html According to Marcus Luttrell Corporate Espionage is .illegal or unethical activities conducted for commercial gain. These activities can include theft of information,

inappropriate use of information, sabotage, bribery, blackmail, hacking, or social engineering. Luttrell is also of the opinion that the internet has blurred the lines of what is considered legal and what is not. He also talks about how Google is used today as tool to gain secret information that they can use to conduct espionage. and hoe Google allows one to gather information today that otherwise would have to be obtained by means of stealing. He defines the Golden Rule of Spying as such an act that answers the question Would we want and willingly approve of our conduct if another company was conducting the activity against our own company. He includes the following acts to be considered as spying:Deceit Pretexting Hiding Covering up activities Hiring someone because you dont feel right about conducting the activity yourself. Title: - Who's Spying on You at Work? Why former CIA agents could be staking out your office. By: - Anonymous Link: - http://www.details.com/culture-trends/career-and-money/200912/office-workspy-cia-corporate-espionage The Anonymous corporate spy here through his tell-all article states his justification about paid corporate spying as that's what we were hired to do. He also admits that a spy must be ready to get your hands dirty and operate in the gray area and he admits to trying to stay within the law. Ironically, the author never mentions the ethical aspects of his deeds. The author is of the opinion that Corporate Espionage can be carried out not only through technology but also through human observation. He also quotes various examples of espionage at international and inter-corporate level and how various corporate invest lose amounts of money due to espionage. ($100 billion lost by U.S. firms annually). Title: - The Wikileaks Illusion By: - Alasdair Roberts Link: - http://www.wilsonquarterly.com/essays/wikileaks-illusion For as long as there has been commerce, there has been espionage, just that the tools get smarter and powerful. Wikileaks which has shook many nations, corporate and individuals alike has marked the end of old fashioned secrecy. In the article The Wikileaks Illusion Alasdair Roberts has attempted to unleash the power, the evolution and the modus operandi of WikiLeaks. It gives a fresh perspective of the world of modern spying and its consequences.

Title: - Rajat Gupta fined $13.9 million for insider trading Link: - http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/rajat-gupta-fined-139million-for-insider-trading/article4927746.ece India-born former Goldman Sachs Director Mr. Rajat Gupta was convicted of insider trading and disclosing confidential information about Berkshire Hathaway Incs $5 billion investment in Goldman Sachs to Mr. Rajaratnam, a Sri Lankan American former hedge fund manager and billionaire founder of the Galleon Group, a New Yorkbased hedge fund management firm.

Title: - The changing rules of corporate spy games Link: - http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0925/p02s01-usec.html Recently the news came where Mark Hurd, CEO of Hewlett Packard, in order to protect their companys business interest, initiated spying on one of its board members. The incident became ugly when it was revealed that the spying agency used techniques such as gaining access to phone records under false pretenses. Many argue that given the highly competitive nature of business today its imperative to protect the leak of sensitive data, however then the question arises that how often in these pursuit, ethicality and right to privacy will be trespassed. The question is whether justifying these moves sets a bad precedent or not. If yes, then are we ready to bring in a culture where this kind of thinking is promoted?

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