Industrial espionage

Other Names:
Clandestine market research
Organizational intelligence
Misappropriation of commercial information
Economic espionage
Business intelligence

Industrial espionage aims at the covert gathering of information on rival enterprises' technological developments and secret processes. It may also include stealing marketing plans, data bases containing distributors names and distribution logistics, financial statements, overall corporate long-range planning including business models and forecasts, and computer programmes and software for management systems. Industrial spies usually operate within the jurisdiction of their employers marketing or market research departments, except technical specialists whose liaison is with industrial research.


In the UK in 1989 it was estimated that industrial espionage cost companies £5 million per year. A higher estimate suggests £5 million per incident, with some 2,500 UK companies spying on their competitors. As an indication over 100,000 bugging devices are sold annually in the UK. In 1993, the USA asserted that the French (and other allied countries) have been spying on USA military contractors to obtain trade advantages, even though an agreement between the intelligence chiefs of both countries ban poaching each others commercial secrets. "Business intelligence" has however become an industry in its own right with its own private companies (for example: German 600, USA 250, France 6).

Related Problems:
Military espionage
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST