Procter & Gamble vs Unilever: A Case of Corporate Espionage

Procter & Gamble vs Unilever: A Case of Corporate Espionage

Examine the evolution of corporate espionage and its impact on companies worldwide with special reference to the US

The case discusses the corporate espionage controversy involving two of the world’s largest consumer product companies, P&G and Unilever, in the early 21st century. It gives an overview of the concepts of competitive intelligence and corporate espionage and examines the differences between them. It then outlines the evolution of corporate espionage over the centuries and examines the reasons for its increasing use. Next, the case details the covert operation conducted by P&G to gain competitive information about Unilever’s shampoo business in the US. It examines the steps taken by P&G’s top management after discovering the secret operation, to settle the matter with Unilever. Finally, it talks about Unilever’s response to the incident, its settlement demands, and summarizes the lessons that can be learnt from this episode.  

Issues

The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  1. Understand the concept of competitive intelligence (CI) and its need vis-à-vis the concept of corporate espionage

  2. Examine the evolution of corporate espionage and its impact on companies worldwide with special reference to the US

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