At Any Cost: Jack Welch, General Electric, and the Pursuit of Profit

Alfred A. Knopf, 1998 - 449 pages
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'sfocus 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.

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À propos de l'auteur (1998)

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.

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