At what point does legitimate competitive intelligence gathering cross the line into industrial espionage, and what is it about certain intelligence gathering practices that makes them open to criticism? In order to shed light on current developments in the competitive intelligence gathering 'industry' and the ethical issues that are typically raised, this paper looks at three recent cases of industrial espionage, involving major multinationals, such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Canal Plus, and Ericsson. The argument is made that, from an ethical point of view, industrial espionage can be assessed according to three main considerations: the tactics used in the acquisition of information, the privacy of the information concerned, and the consequences for the public interest as a result of the deployment of the information by the intelligence gatherer.
- Business ethics
- Industrial espionage
- Information and communication technology
- Intelligence gathering
- Market research
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Business and International Management