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The new competitive intelligence agents: "Programming" competitive intelligence ethics into corporate cultures

Author(s): Emilie Steele Giustozzi | Betsy Van der Veer Martens

Journal: Webology
ISSN 1735-188X

Volume: 8;
Issue: 2;
Start page: a88;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Astroturfing | Competitive intelligence | Ethics | Field agent | Mystery shopping | Persona Management | Strategic & Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP)

This article examines some of the ethical issues involved in competitive intelligence activities on the Internet. We discuss the importance of an ethical framework for the performance of competitive intelligence, especially the Code of Ethics of SCIP (the leading professional association for strategic and competitive professionals), in the context of today's networked global environment. The virtual borderlines separating national economic and military territories online are becoming increasingly hard to determine, and a variety of intelligence activities now impact organizations of every size. We describe how competitive intelligence is often practiced by employees and firms with no clear understanding of the legal and public relations problems that various ill-advised initiatives may create for both individuals and the organization, inasmuch as the Internet greatly facilitates the use of sophisticated software products without correspondingly sophisticated ethical perspectives. Specifically, we offer two mundane and seemingly minor examples of how the uninformed use of microtasking software such as Field Agent and identity misrepresentation software such as Persona Management may actually be detrimental to the existence of an ethical organizational culture. We concludes by offering suggestions as to how to help employees "program" themselves into being effective and ethical CI "agents" for their organizations.
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