Backing Down or Continued Negotiations? Reputational Risk and Google’s Latest China Announcement Reply

I look at the latest news regarding Google-China a bit differently.  Many would have us believe that Google has backed down or returned to pursuing revenue in the world's largest Internet market.  For me, I see this as a continued negotiation between Google and China, and the end is perhaps not yet near.

Google from the outset said they would work with with the Chinese government and stay in the market, if possible.  They were prepared to walk if they some sort of agreement could not be reached.  The redirect to Hong Kong was simply one move in this cat-and-mouse style negotiation, China threatening to revoke Google's license came next, and now Google is responding.  While this may not be a classic face-to-face negotiation like a b-school tectbook would teach, it is nonetheless a negotiation.

With time this issue will get sorted out.  But like the original announcement in January, pundits of all media types are again rushing to judgment. Perhaps the nature of this unique dialogue, of sorts, between Google and China does not neatly fit the compressed time of Internet news cycles.  

Being interested in corporate reputation, I am curious how these moves and counter-moves play out with regards to Google's reputation?  They seemed to be measurably rewarded for standing up to China, but now that the two are hashing out there differences through these mundane moves, and as people rush to express any opinion, does this less-dramatic stage of the negotiation invite adverse consequences on Google's reputation? 

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