Spooked: Espionage in Corporate America

Adam L. Penenberg, Author, Marc Barry, Author, Marc Barry, Joint Author Basic Books $26 (208p) ISBN 978-0-7382-0271-6
Paranoia levels will shoot through the ceiling among those who read this riveting report on the growing number of companies that spy on their competition in the U.S. Penenberg, an investigative journalist for Forbes, and Barry, founder of a corporate intelligence agency, argue that, in an environment of blistering competition, the edge belongs to the company with the best information on its rivals. In-house spy units, Penenberg and Barry claim, are cloaked behind doors with division titles like external development, market research and strategic marketing and, therefore, can't be accurately counted. Nevertheless, they contend, a clear indicator of growth in the new corporate-spy industry is the emergence of the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals, which sets ethical guidelines and standards of conduct for the industry and reportedly has 7,000 members. In the tradition of John le Carr , the industry has already developed its own colorful lingo for its various types of snoops, ranging from ""the librarian""Dwho only searches publicly available sources of informationDto the ""trade-show cowboy,"" who assumes a false identity to skulk around conventions. Penenberg and Barry report hair-raising tales of corporate skulduggery in loving detail, including how companies like Motorola and Avery Dennison have reaped huge benefits from their corporate-intelligence investments. Agent, Lisa Swain. (Dec. 18) Forecast: With publication coming on the heels of the recent break-in at Microsoft, and a New York Times Magazine excerpt scheduled for December 3, Penenberg and Barry's deeply intriguing book is bound to get a lot of play and should wind up as one of the season's must-have reads. Marketing to both the business set and fans of cloak-and-dagger will enhance sales.
Reviewed on: 12/04/2000
Release date: 12/01/2000
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