Synopses & Reviews
Jack Welch, the CEO of General Electric and one of the most renowned figures in today's business world, has been seen by some as the model corporate leader and by others as the quintessential unmitigated pursuer of profit. In this searching, revealing, and riveting book, the man and his methods, and the legendary company he runs, are brilliantly examined.
In the 1980s Welch built GE into the prototypical global company. In the process, he created immeasurable wealth. GE under Welch is the world's most profitable and most valuable company--twenty-two consecutive years of dividend increases; a near-perfect progression of ever-higher profits; and a 1,155 percent increase in the value of its shares between 1982 and 1997, the year GE became the first corporation to be valued at more than $200 billion. By July 1998 its shares had risen in value another $100 billion.
As we watch Welch's spectacular rise through the ranks at GE, we see his impetuousness, his aggressiveness, his lightning strikes. We see the making of an extraordinary leader who is a catalyst for change, who anticipates events rather than merely reacting to them, and who confronts complacency with blitzkrieg action.
But success for a company can come at a price for the community. As Thomas F. O'Boyle shows, long before most chief executives had heard of corporate restructuring--and long before "downsizing" became a word heard daily in American life--Welch was practicing both. As the story of his seventeen-year tenure unfolds, we see him eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs, send other jobs abroad, buy and sell hundreds of businesses, remove entire echelons from the corporate hierarchy, and shift the company's focus from long-established manufacturing businesses to entertainment and finance. His approach to personnel cuts earned him the
nickname "Neutron Jack."
In its latest incarnation, the vast manufacturing company that Thomas Edison began in 1878 has also been caught up in miscues and legal difficulties: defective refrigerators brought to market; industrial wastes improperly buried; excessive radiation in the workplace; fraud in military contract procurement; a financial service division's improprieties that landed on the front page. All the while, shareholders have reaped enormous gains--but, the author asks, at what cost?
Thomas F. O'Boyle has given us an unprecedented look at GE, at the Welch revolution--at the American way of big business at the end of the twentieth century.
A timely and searching examination of General Electric -- and of its longtime CEO Jack Welch, regarded by some as a model corporate leader and by others as the quintessential relentless pursuer of profit.
In the almost two decades during which Welch has led GE, the company has increasingly become a leader in entertainment and financial services. We see Welch piloting GE to ever-greater profits while setting the pace for corporate cost-cutting: drastically downsizing, jettisoning workers, abandoning communities, sending jobs abroad. And we see how the company; over the years, has reacted when some of its activities have come under public scrutiny: defective refrigerators brought to market; industrial waste improperly buried; radiation levels in the workplace exceeding limits; military-contract fraud; a financial service division's improprieties landing on the front pages. All the while, shareholders reap enormous profits -- but, the author asks, at what price.
An unprecedented look at the Welch revolution and the American way of big business as the century ends.
About the Author
Thomas F. O'Boyle has been writing about business and management issues since 1979. He covered U.S., European, and Asian industrial corporations for eleven years at the Wall Street Journal. He was named business editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1994, where he is currently an assistant managing editor. He lives with his wife and three children near Pittsburgh.