Google’s Corporate Social Responsibility

1.0 Introduction

Apart from quality service production and delivery services consumers are growing more concerned with selecting brands that appropriately participate in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Consumers hold corporations responsible and accountable for affecting society through their business activities, practices, and beliefs. Consumers prioritize CSR to the point that they would be willing to turn their backs on their favorite company after realizing they does not actively participate in environmental and societal issues. CSR creates a win-win situation for companies (Haski-Leventhal, 2017). Through philanthropy, volunteer efforts, and CSR programs companies can build their brand, develop appropriate customer relationship management, and maintain customer loyalty simultaneously (Bice, 2017). CSR also help to establish a strong connection between the administration and employees.

Corporate Social Responsibility is a technique that companies apply to ensure they play an active role in protecting the environment and social interest of their consumers within their operations. CSR is part of strategic management; it allows companies to participate in corporate social citizenship (Susanti, 2017). It assists companies to safeguard themselves from risks by analysis and to ensure the satisfaction of a broad spectrum of stakeholders within the environment and social sphere.  The research will discuss what details CSR and its importance. It will examine a CSR disaster that occurred in Google (Khawaja, 2018). It will explain the origins of the problem, and the organization’s response. The proposal outlines, the importance of CSR. It provides a discussion on the implications of CSR failure on the organization and its effect on Google’s key stakeholders.

1.1 Google Company Profile

Google has always been a shining star in active participation in CSR ever since its inception in 1998. The tech giant boosts of the development of applications that ease business activities as well as socialization among its clients. Key innovation includes Gmail, Google Drive, and the Google search engine among others. The company has also partnered with other tech brands such as YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook that helps its clients have a well-coordinated and connected social and business networking system. As such, Google products are an essential part of everyday connections carried out by internet users. Google has in several instances received recognition for active participation in CSR and tech innovation by the Reputation Institute (Lee, 2019). The Institute quantifies CSR among different companies using a ranking system. Google won an award in 2015 by the Reputation Institute that classified the company as number one CSR provider.

Google has set aside a lot of funds to facilitate sustainability through different CSR programs. In 2017, Google was among the top 3 best companies that actively participate in CSR. Google has vastly adopted the CSR programs in economic, social and environmental initiatives and thus it strives to maintain sustainability (Sun, 2016). I decided to select Google as it has been able to continue active participation in CSR for years, therefore the disaster in a great glitch on Google’s stainless reputation. The case study helps to evaluate the company’s reactions and response to salvage the situation after the disaster. Google was forced to shut down its subsidiary Google + social network following the leakage of data for 500,000 users. The CSR disaster goes against Google policy of ethics of maintaining confidentiality for its clients.

1.2 Problem Statement

Google + was established in 2011 as a social network component to help Google handle competition from Facebook. The network adopted selected elements of Facebook such as status, feeds and updates on accounts and sharing with friends. Unfortunately, Google + was not as sophisticated to handle the privacy challenges of social media applications leading to CSR disaster of 2018 (Ming, 2018). In October 2018 a Wall Street Journal report revealed that the personal data of 500,000 users suffered data leakage. The personal data of clients and their friends using the Google + social network had exposed without their consent and were made accessible to over 130 channel outside developers (Gurlek, 2017). Unfortunately, Google used the wrong technique to try and salvage the situation. Google applied the reactive and defensive model. At first it did not provide its statement; instead, it chooses to assume and ignore the case while attempting to hide facts from its affected clients (Fast Company, 2019). However, after a comprehensive investigation, Google decided to break the silence. In defense, the company decides to shut down the Google + system.

1.3 Google’s Response and Effects on Stakeholders

In its statement, the tech giant announced that 438 outside develop apps accessed the client’s data due to the compromise from the bug. It compares its data breach to that of the Analytica scandal that challenged Facebook. The data breach is a significant challenge for Google especially since the Google + services had been introduced just seven years before the scandal. Google also announced that it would modify security features for its other applications including Gmail, Android and other Google subsidiaries that had suffered from the data leakage (Anagnos, 2019). The breach of confidentiality affected about 500,000 users who had their email addresses, personal information details, and photos exposed to the public. The Statement revealed that this CSR breach is as a result of a bug that developed from an internal audit conducted earlier in the year on the application, “ the Project Strobe” (Tanggamani, 2018). The virus originated from a flaw within the Application Programming Interface, created by Google to assist application developers to acquire information of the uses who had shared and signed up to their accounts in Google +. Unfortunately, the API compromised access to selected personal information of account owners and friends who used the social network without their permission.

Internal analysis revealed no evidence that an inside man manipulated the bug. Google also argues that there is no evidence on personal data of clients suffered compromise for any nefarious purposes (Esmaeilpour, 2016). Although the management was aware of the bug months before they released their report. They decided to delay due to fear that the scandal might be direct compared to the Facebook Analytica Scandal as Google + had selected concepts that were almost imitations from Facebook. Furthermore, the company was giving itself chance to carry out an internal investigation.  Google statement helped to provide closure to clients on what had happened. The company further assured its clients that it would address the current challenge and develop an improved and innovative system that will meet consumer needs and wants for the Google + social network. Google later decided to completely pull down the consumer version of Google + due to the CSR disaster and the reduction of consumer usage of the social network after the scandal ( 2019). The bug resulted in a drastic decrease in the market share of Google the parent corporation by 2.2% immediately after the discovery.

Fortunately, Google statement revealed that other data posted to Google + such as message, account data was safe.  The Google scandal has affected all stakeholders within the organization. Stakeholders involved were significantly affected, employees risked losing their jobs if found to have been involved in the scandal (NewsComAu, 2019). Investors who placed their money on the Google + social network have lost their money as consumer drastically withdrawn from the system (Sama, 2016). Clients felt betrayed by the breach of contract and the exposure of personal data to the public.

1.4. Objectives of the study

The primary purpose of the study is to evaluate the effects of the CSR disaster on the operations of Google and its implications on the stakeholders of the company.

To establish the origins of the Google + social network CSR disaster.

  • To determine the steps that have been taken by the company to remedy the situation.
  • To examine the effect of the CSR disaster on the company.
  • To access the impact of the ethical issues arising from the data breach from the CSR disaster.
  • To examine the results of the CSR disaster on stakeholders of the company.

1.5. Research Questions

  • To what extent does the CSR disaster affect the operations of Google and Google + social networks?
  • What is the effect of the CSR disaster on the stakeholders of the company?
  • To what extent do the ethical issues affect Customer Relationship Management?

1.6. The significance of the Study

The study identifies the connection between CSR and the data breach scandal that has affected Google and Google + social networks.  It identifies significant pitfalls that have negatively influenced the CSR disaster within the company.  The study will come up with ways of CSR by remedying the existing challenge and developing better innovation techniques to improve future social networks (Dulcic, 2018). Google management will benefit from the information provided within this study as it will serve as a point of reference for evaluating the current situation and provide insight into the development of strategies to prevent future CSR disasters. CSR is an essential concept of Customer relationship management. Therefore, the study provides a basis for which organizations can evaluate their tactics of participating in CSR, and it helps in delivering an appropriate recommendation on the best way to handle CSR issues (Djaddang, 2017). It will generate a body of knowledge would be an essential point of references for future scholars and researchers interest in exploring the dynamics of CSR disasters.

1.7 Limitation of the Study

The Google + social networking scandal is a CSR disaster that involved a data breach, as such the study presented ethical issues due to the sensitivity of data collected from potential sources.  The study involved secondary data sources as such journals, and they are subject to bias and exaggeration. The researcher faced the following challenges during the research study; Lack of cooperation and confidentiality issues. Google is an international tech giant, as such the management is under a busy schedule all days of the week (Nikolic, 2018). As such, it was challenging to obtain authority from the top management to carry out interviews and questionnaires. Confidentiality, Google took time before establishing its statement; thus it was challenging to attain interviews and surveys from the respondents working at Google due to confidentiality issues (Leiva, 2016).


2.0. Literature Review

The purpose of this literature review was to examine the perceptions of writers on CSR disasters and how they affect the organization. Several authors have discussed CSR and its connection to concepts such as Customer Relationship Management, Customer Loyalty, Ethical issues and Economic growth of businesses (Jakopovic, 2017). Literature review section provides appreciation to other researchers and their contributions to the field.

2.1. Theoretical Framework

Corporate Social Responsibility as theory analyses the steps taken by organizations and their employees to carry out processes and initiative that promote the greater good to society. Organizations that actively participate in Corporate Social Responsibility often ensure job satisfaction of their employees by keeping them motivated thus increasing performance. A company that engages in CSR appreciates its employees and their input in organizational development, and it builds an organizational culture where employees are encouraged to interact and create a contribution in society (Cycyota, 2016). Corporate social responsibility theory has two main concepts; first, it is a theory that explores the processes carried out by a corporation to ensure the application of ethics and compliance within their social interactions. It examines whether corporations are making their money responsibly. Secondly, the theory explores whether the profitability of an organization plays a role in promoting community welfare (Bhattacharya, 2017). The approach provides an analysis of the interaction between the organization, the community and the universe at large, under the theory CSR is composed of four principal obligations.

  • The economic responsibility- Organizations have the responsibility to make profits, and this can be in terms of monetary values, or social welfare. The financial burden is the basis of business ethics. Profit organizations make money then convert it to social welfare, while nonprofit organizations carry out social welfare.
  • Ethical responsibility- Organizations are under the obligation of carrying out the right activities even without consultation from the law. According to CSR theory organizations are under the duty of exhibiting coherent organizational culture and values that serve to protect the rights of citizens (Chatjuhamard, 2016). Ethical obligation implies both legal, moral, and social responsibility to protect the community.
  • Legal responsibility- Organization have to comply with due standards and procedures required by the law. The CSR theory provides that an organization must remain compliant with the law.
  • Philanthropic responsibility- Organizations have the burden of contributing to the development of society through participating in community building initiatives (Branzei, 2018). Through participation in local business and community programs, the organization ensures Customer relationship management.


3.0 Methodology

The methodology explores the process taken to carry out the actual study. It describes the data collection, and techniques used to analyze the data.

3.1. Research Design

The review below adopted a descriptive research design. The research aimed at answering the research questions. The methods selected best provides the needed information on the CSR Google + crisis as it allows for different perceptions, values, and attitudes concerning the scandal that had hampered operations at Google. The detailed design enables the research to gather timely that describes the origins of existing conditions within the organization. The population of about 50 staff members was respondents in the study.

3.2. Target Population

The target population was the staff of Google working under the Google + social network department. The group included top management, subordinate staff, and middle management.

3.3. Data Collection Methods

  • Questionnaires- The study employed the surveys as the primary data collection method. The poll provides several questions that assist in data collection on the origins of CSR disaster that occurred at Google +. The surveys were an instrumental data collection method for this particular case study as it allowed respondents to give their opinions without interfering with their busy schedules.
  • Interviews- The study carried out interviews to provide a better explanation of concepts not understood from the questionnaire. The interviews were carried out following an interview schedule to ensure clarity of information from the data collection process.
  • Secondary Sources- The study acquires information from the secondary sources of data such as the Wall Street Journal on the CSR disaster that occurred to the Google + social network.

3.4. Data Analysis and Presentation

For this study, the collected data using questionnaires, interviews, and secondary sources. After collection, data analysis, before editing, coding, and tabulation. The data was analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative techniques.


4.0 Outcomes and Discussion

Carrying out a descriptive research design may at times be rather complicated and problematic especially when people’s confidentiality, perceptions, and attitudes are in question. The research also presented challenges in data collection and data analysis since respondents had different opinions of what the CSR disaster entailed. However, the study was guided by the set objectives to reduce the occurrence of misinterpretation of information or bias.


5.0 Conclusion and Recommendations

The CSR disaster that occurred in Google disrupted operations in several functional areas by destroying ethical standards that had been maintained by the company. It also upset Customer Relationship Management and Customer Loyalty that had been a stronghold for Google Corporation. Stakeholders involved were significantly affected, employees risked losing their jobs, and investors lost their money as consumer drastically withdrew from the network, clients felt betrayed from the breach of contract and the exposure of personal data to the public. The scandal placed the squeaky clean image of Google under jeopardy. This study aimed to understand the origins of the CSR disaster, the step taken by the company to remedy the challenges and its implications on the stakeholders. Corporate Social responsibility ensures the application of ethics, as such, the disaster went against ethical standards of the company. CSR relates to Customer Relationship Management and Customer Loyalty as well as economic growth of an organization. As such Google is encouraged to carry out innovative development of its social networks with an advanced impenetrable security code that cannot suffer hacking. Furthermore, in case of a future disaster such as this, it is encouraged to employ openness and honesty in communicating with its clients.



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