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Corporate Espionage and Competitive Intelligence Essay

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Updated: Aug 31st, 2021

The 21st century opens with attributes of concern by the corporate firms. The intensity of commercial activities continues to relentlessly increase. The commercial systems, activities, and programs have continued to change due to the changing scenery in the marketplace considerably. With the highly competitive state of the market, corporations have been in a financial look to strategize on a competing portfolio. Strategic management has consistently become an important tool in this exercise. The world market has become highly competitive, with organizations producing substitute goods. With the demand and supply of the market changing, the organizations have changed to corporate espionage and competitive intelligence. The next logical question that a rational human being would ask is, “do these two disciplines provide for incorporate rationality activities?”

At one level, competitive intelligence involves the set of various ethical issues, which may include the examinations into the corporate publications, their patent contents, and websites whose aim is to formulate various analytical conclusions about the activities involved within the corporation. In contrast to this is corporate espionage. These are activities that may involve the theft by one corporation to another of its trading secrets, the bribery of its activities, the blackmailing aspects, and various surveillance in technological frontiers. Industrial espionage has been voted as an activity most prevalent to the highly technological corporation. This involves information management. Managers have considerably understood the role played by information. Consequently, information is an important compliment in formulating the corporation’s success or failure. ( Desmet, 1999) With the stealing secrets about the trading trends of an organization, the stealing company will therefore develop various advantages over its competitors. For corporations whose activities are provided by the advantages in information, the loss in its information to a predator is a loss in the survival tactics at the market. Espionage involves diversity in the theft of activities about a particular corporation. From a number of documents, including agreements on supplies, the various records on an individual client, any documents on research activities, plans about its activities above others, a competing company may steal such items from its competitor. The stealing of the documents involves a process of compiling in the same documents, through the Competitive Intelligence Solution (CIS) or even through the Competitive Response Solution (CRS).

As the two fundamental aspects of the marketplace game theory of the corporations, a debate may then be formulated about the authenticity of each in relation to the other. The point of analysis would be in drawing an elaborated structure about the prevailing ethical parameters ascribed to the two aspects. The next logical question for the debate would be, “are both or at least one of the aspects ethical? If yes, what is the ethical pursuit?”

At one point, industrial espionage may be described as a subject of competitive intelligence. This is when some material facts collected through competitive intelligence would be subject to some standards of criticism. The assessment of the roots and antecedents of industrial espionage is important in order to formulate the ethical standards that may be ascribed to the process. The consequence of the competition within the market is what acts to bring this aspect. The intensity in the competition parameters at the markets place for one organization needs to be functional. (Brenner, Crescenzi, 2006)

However, the aspect may be described as unethical by one of the rational competitors. However, to the better part, espionage is deeply rooted in the antecedents of the fundamental forms that can be used in market research by a corporation. The arguments on espionage fall adequately in the hands of the Society for Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCPI). Their argument is that the concept perceives illegal activities. However, at a closer dimension, one would not hesitate to comprehend that gathering of information by an organization about the other would still depict some standards of legitimacy. This leads one to the concept of the acceptable intelligence gathering and the unacceptable one.

At one level, organizations should collect various information as well as employ it into its use concerning their competitors. Such information collection may employ various tools such as scanning of the market scenario, studying the profile concepts of the competitor above other measures. Many of these methods of data gathering are conventional and accepted globally as methods aimed at formulating market research hypotheses. They are basically used for studying the competitor’s behavioral nature as well as the activity profile in its function. Therefore, a gathering of information would seldom be acceptable as long as the competitors operate within the competitive market system. In the marketplace, the competitors are to act through the provisional concept of the game theory. Different models on the game theory may be modeled depending on the competition etiquette of these competitors. Within the game, there is the rational assumption of a certain level of capacity in terms of benefits to the competitors within the market. Any loss to one of them is a consequent benefit to the other (Faumann, 1997).

Understanding the acceptability of the illegitimacy of espionage should not, however, involve mere face value of activity analysis. However, a comprehensive study into the morals regarding its ethics should market this competition. This is to mean that, the basic advantages allied the competition scenery in the bid to study the operation of competitors, the predating competitors would only have its gathered information which could on be under the imagery of acceptability within a certain perimeter. However, any exercise in information gathering beyond this optimal point would imply an unacceptable condition.

The rationality in studying the state of balance between these two conflicting schools of thought would, however, be compromised by the application of the rule f the law. This is because the current state of the legal pronouncements about espionage is subject to stringent rigidities that are far behind the advanced scenery of the marketplace. As the information technologies and the state of competitive intelligence continue to change, the basic principles that are mentioned and defined as the basic implements in guiding the morals of espionage are, however, changing. The commercial structures are changing with everyday activities into the sector, calling for diversity in changing the former outlook of the business perception.

As the world’s intense commercial competition continues to unfold, organizations are using various spies in the espionage process of other companies. In the current world, cases of industrial espionage are increasingly becoming many. Many multinationals have been forced to pay compensations to inform of restitution to their competitors in accusations of the vice.

With the complexity in understanding the concept, however, it’s important for one to understand the basic parameters that define it. The same analysis will basically involve the use of some specific methods of analysis that seek to evaluate the corresponding imagery between activities that involve industrial espionage. Since the use of the legal process would highly provide premature legacies, a comprehensive modality based on the study of the moral antecedents would thus be employed (Goel, 1995).

Broadly, a rational being would question the definite purposes in which this particular information is sought to be clearly defined. The concept of the public interest is, however, defined by the broad consequences of the information in terms of the final results of the general public. This is determined by the broad feeling of the public in regard to the broad consequences that could be brought about by the gathered information. The relationship between an organization and the public is the satisfaction in the product to the public by the organization. Satisfaction to the consumption needs of the public results in their happiness. However, such happiness could be reduced by the effect of industrial espionage. Either, the industrial state forms an important part of the broad national economy. At one level, espionage is a threat to such a national economic portfolio. This can be focused on the reduced economies of scale and the economic output opportunities to a company due to the threats of espionage. The general concept of public interest is rooted in the parameters that define the long-run well-being of society as a result of this espionage. Broadly, the loss of competitive information is a loss through operational costs to an organization. To recover its cost parameters, the organization will employ the broad economic variable that absorbs the resulting costs. This could be perhaps through the increasing price of commodities above the reduction into the benefits supplied in the national economic portfolio.

Other kinds of spying are a threat to both the public physical security as well as the broad nation. In understanding the concept either, there is a broad comparison between the elements of any issues related to privacy or even confidentiality. However, the concept of importance is to formulate a close relationship between the relevance of the use of the information and the consequent issues that could be related to the general interests of the broad public. Solely, the aspect of commercial confidentiality by an organization cannot be regarded as a benefit to the organization and the broad interest of the public. (Vaughan, 1999) However, the threshold in some rights of ownership and confidentiality are a threat to the public interest where such public forum may be limited in the exercise of their rights in the use of these products. From the perspective of the public, therefore, information gathering would be an important compliment on the public, where their interests are more looked at than when the same privacy is provided by the providers.

The privacy character and confidential levels in the gathered information can be analyzed through a study into the nature and characteristics of this information. At one level, organizational information can be attributed as been either confidential or non-confidential. For confidential information is bound not to been freely provided to the general public, and therefore, such information is protected by some fundamental legal and moral spheres. However, the subject of the law comes in to define the legal understanding of private information. With the essence of private information, this is categorical to the aspect of property rights. Such information is protected by the set of laws that governs the different rights of properties. With the broad understanding of the roles played by rights on intellectual property, some legal dimensions are drawn between the gathering of the information under the intensity of it as been private or public (James, Federico, 1999).

The legal parameters about the rights on intellectual properties are a diverse plane. At one level, it provides that confidential information is safeguarded by particular rights which control its use and publicity to the users. However, for non-confidential information, there is a lesser level of legal restriction about the information. Therefore, the public is open to use this information adequately without any legal penalties. Non-confidential information is adequately available to the general public, including competitors. In the view of internalizing the concept of acceptability of data gathered through industrial espionage, the nature of the data forms a basic concept of understanding. The evaluation of the mature of information in terms of privacy should be employed. Either in acceptability, the illegitimacy, on the other hand, the of information gathered from public information should also be accepted.

Consequently, a gathering of such information relates to the use of various tactics. Therefore the basic methods could be used to provide the surveillance of the information to the competitor. However, some tactics are unethical and only act to go beyond the frontiers that may be seemed as rational and acceptable. Some methods of information collecting involve the use of detective personals and equipment, use of various interviewing processes to employees, management, and other persons above other rational methods to study the relationship between the tactic and the ethical grounds allied to the same. Ethical methods show a state of honesty, where the persons and methods used are adequately founded on the grounds of honesty. However, any modalities that prove dishonesty is taken as bad information (Goel, 1995).

In order to provide a solid difference between competitive intelligence and industrial espionage, therefore, a parametric analysis of the information sourced, its use, and effects on both the competitor and the broad economy should be done. Summarily, competitive intelligence spells a distinctive difference in the success as well as the failure concepts. This should either analyze the profit and the loss package to the competitor, which may be borne to the information.

With the respective fragility to the aspect of espionage, the organization should employ various tools that seek to reduce it. At one point, the organization should ensure controlled access to all the information that may be denied confidentiality. This can be achieved through diversity in its activities which help to reduce information theft. Either, the management should practice various personnel management measures that help to reduce the inequities provided by the workers in regard to espionage. This is in the broad relation of the possible role of the employees in regard to their contribution towards espionage with any outgoing employees and other various conceptions that aim at reducing the employee’s participation in espionage. Adequacy should be provided in regard to the relation to the executive system and the effect of espionage. At one level, the information and communication network between such executives and the organization should be limited and changed before they are swept away (Faumann, 1997).

A good corporate system backed with legitimate concepts of organizational behavior is important for limiting espionage. With such good modalities about the organizational behavior, this vice would radically be reduced.

In conclusion, competitive intelligence and corporate espionage continue to thrive in the current corporate system. At one point, it can be concluded that espionage is a subject of basic requirements of gathering information. Either espionage is acceptable as legitimate via the fulfillment of the basic requirements required in the process of gathering information. In understanding the concept of legitimacy, the activity should not go beyond some basic requirements. Otherwise, within the logical frontiers of the conventional requirements, then espionage would no longer be a problem.


Brenner, S & Crescenzi, A (2006) State-Sponsored Crime: The Futility of the Economic Espionage Act. Houston Journal of International Law, Vol. 28.

Desmet, T (1999) The Economic Espionage Act of 1996: Are we Finally Taking Corporate Spies Seriously? Houston Journal of International Law, Vol. 22.

Faumann, E (1997) Economic Espionage: Security Missions Redefined. Administration Review, Vol. 57.

Goel, R (1995) Spillovers, Rivalry and R& d Investment. Southern Economic Journal Vol. 62.

James, F & Federico, G (1999). European Industrial Policy: The Twentieth-Century Experience. Oxford: Oxford University.

Vaughan, D. (1999). THE DARK SIDE OF ORGANIZATIONS: Mistake, Misconduct, and Disaster, Annual Review of Sociology.

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