Competitive intelligence on the net.

A multinational perspective on ethical practices.

Sylvia Long–Tolbert
Drexel University
Patrick E. Murphy
University of Notre Dame


The reality of a global economy has finally arrived after several decades of anticipation and uncertainty about its impact on the competitive environment. Rapid developments in information technology, restructuring of industries, and increasing competition from indirect competitors are other factors that have further intensified competition worldwide. As multinational firms are challenged to keep pace with these developments, they have learned that failure to monitor the competition can spell corporate suicide in a global marketplace (Gilad 1989). Hence, the survival and success of virtually all organizations depends on a sound understanding of the current and future competitive environment.

Historically, multinational firms, especially those based in the United States, have devoted too little attention to competitive threats and are generally viewed as naïve by foreign competitors (McDermott 1994). There is evidence that American firms now recognize the importance of competitive intelligence as a legitimate business activity and one way to achieve global objectives. For instance, at least 80% of Fortune 500 companies engage in competitive intelligence activities at some level (Kahaner 1996). Furthermore, the membership of the Society for Competitive Intelligence (SCIP), the professional organization for intelligence researchers, has grown significantly in a very short period. Since 1994, SCIP enrollment has risen from 1,800 to 7,000 and membership worldwide continues to increase (King and Bravin 2000). The organization has over 50 chapters around the globe with fifteen of them located in Europe.