Competitive Intelligence

Tactical, Operational & Strategic Analysis of Markets, Competitors & Industries

Hello All

I am taking a business ethics class this summer and have to do a term paper on something related to business ethics.  I am thinking about doing competitive intelligence/economic espionage.  If you know of any books or articles on this subject, I would greatly appreciate it if you would point me in the right direction.  Thanks!



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Hi Jennifer

My first suggestion is for you to clarify/decide which of the two topics – Competitive Intelligence and Economic Espionage –you want to work for your paper.

Competitive Intelligence is a business toll and like most other business tolls as its own specific framework, therefore a business ethics paper on this topic will be quite interesting.

Economic Espionage is an illegal activity, as I am sure working for a law firm you are likely to know, and doing a business ethics paper on this topic will be, at least on my view, challenging but if you can ‘pull it out’ I would like to read it.

In case you go for the first I have some reading suggestions, like I am sure many other Ning members.

In case you go for the second I am less able to help you but it is possible that other members might.

Good luck with your assignment/paper.


Hi Jennifer,

To add to Miguel’s clarification:

Economic espionage is conducted by governments against foreign targets.  (e.g. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army hacks into Google and steals its source code.)

Industrial/Corporate espionage is conducted by corporations against another target corporation.  (e.g.  Alpha Corporation pays $20,000 to a product manager at Zeta Industries for designs of Zeta’s latest and greatest widget.)   

These are conceptual distinctions; in reality the line between the two is often blurry.


For a business ethics topic involving CI collection activity vs. industrial espionage, look no further than the dumpster diving debate.   

Hi Jennifer,

A good book on CI and ethics was put out by SCIP some years back, "Competitive Intelligence Ethics, Navigating the Gray Zone."

This might be useful for your research, although it's quite old. The ethics around CI is a pretty timeless topic for the most part.


Ellen Naylor

Jennifer hi


As others have mentioned, these are two very different subjects, and do not deserve to be conjoined by a "/". The one is legal, and hopefully conducted ethically, and the other illegal and beyond the pale. Just as no one would seriously suggest, when writing about the procurement of raw materials, that one possible method of procuring them is to steal them, so too, when discussing CI, there is no place for bringing in a discussion of industrial espionage. Just because so many journalists and some CI practitioners are confused on this point doesn't lend it any legitimacy.


There are still plenty of ethical issues to consider even when one stays firmly on the "legal" side of the line ...


best regards




Perfectly said, Michael.

Hi Jennifer, 


I have attached a paper for your information. I hope this helps you.


Best regards,




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