GE and Jack Welch

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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN002
Case Length : 11 Pages
Period : 1981-2001
Pub Date : 2002
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : GE
Industry : Varied
Countries : USA

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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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"If leadership is an art, then surely Welch has proved himself a master painter."

- Business Week, May 28, 1998.

"The two greatest corporate leaders of this century are Alfred Sloan of General Motors and jack Welch of GE. And Welch would be the greater of the two because he set a new, contemporary paradigm for the corporation that is the model of the 21st Century."

- Noel Tichy, Professor of Management, University of Michigan, and a longtime GE observer.


On September 6, 2001, John Francis Welch Jr. (Jack Welch), Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Electric Co. (GE),1 retired after spending 41 years with GE. During the period, he made GE the most valuable company in the world. Analysts felt that, with his innovative, breakthrough leadership style as CEO, Jack Welch transformed GE into a highly productive and efficient company. During Jack Welch's two decades as CEO, GE had grown from a US$13 billion manufacturer of light bulbs and appliances in 1981, into a US$480 billion industrial conglomerate by 2000. Analysts felt that Jack Welch had become a 'deal-making' machine, supervising 993 acquisitions worth US$13 billion and selling 408 businesses for a total of about US$10.6 billion.

Leadership and Entrepreneurship Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Leadership and Entrepreneurship, Case Studies

Jack Welch was infact described as 'the most important and influential business leaders of the 20th Century' by some Wall Street analysts and academics alike.

Management experts felt that Jack Welch's reputation as a leader could be attributed to four key qualities: he was an intuitive strategist; he was willing to change the rules if necessary; he was highly competitive; and he was a great communicator...

The Making of a CEO

Jack Welch graduated in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts and in 1959 got a Ph.D in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois. In 1960, he started his career at GE as a Junior Engineer...

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1]  Thomas A Edison established Edison Electric Light Company in 1878. General Electric was created in 1892, after the merger of Edison General Electric Company and Thomson-Houston Electric Company. By 2000, GE became a diversified technology and manufacturing company with about 313,000 employees, with revenues of US$129.9 bn. Some of the business divisions of the company include Aircraft Engines, Appliances, Aviation Services, Commercial Equipment Financing, Commercial Finance, Employers Reinsurance Corporation, GE Equity, GE Financial Assurance, GE Consumer Finance, Industrial Systems, Lighting, Medical Systems, Mortgage Insurance Corp., Plastics, Power Systems, Real Estate etc..


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