Jack Welch and Jeffrey Immelt - Continuity and Change in Strategy, Style
and Culture at GE
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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.
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Leadership and Entrepreneurship
General Electric Company (GE) was a major conglomerate and
one of the biggest companies in the world. One of the factors that was believed
to be responsible for the company's steady growth for more than a century was
its tradition of stable and long term leadership.
One of the most successful phases in GE's history began when Jack Welch became
its CEO in 1981. Welch attempted to make GE one of the top companies in every
segment in which it operated. He also supervised several acquisitions that added
value to the business portfolio and was instrumental in creating a performance
oriented culture at the company. Welch retired in 2001 after 20 years at the
He was succeeded by Jeffrey Immelt, who was chosen by GE's
board after a long and careful succession planning activity supervised by Welch
This case discusses the strategic and cultural changes at GE as a result of the
change in leadership. It compares GE's strategy and operations under Welch, with
those under Immelt. It also talks about the changes in the company's culture
under Immelt. The case concludes with a discussion on the challenges facing
Immelt, as of mid 2006.
» To understand the relationship between leadership and growth in large
and diversified companies.
» To study the effects of a change in leadership on company strategy and
» To compare the leadership styles of two leaders of a large business
conglomerate and to analyze the effectiveness of their individual styles.
» To understand the interrelationships between leadership style,
organizational culture, corporate strategy, and the external environment.
» To appreciate the need for a formal and detailed succession planning
system in large companies.
» To appreciate the challenges facing the successor to a charismatic and
influential leader at a large global company.
Jack Welch, Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric Company,
Leadership, Strategy, Culture, Strategic Planning, Matrix Corporate Planning
System, Six Sigma, Honeywell Inc., Motorola, AlliedSignal, Number One Number
Two, 4Es of Leadership, Corporate Restructuring, Portfolio Restructuring.
Jack Welch and Jeffrey Immelt - Continuity and Change in Strategy
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