Globalization at General Electric Case
Directions: Develop a detailed corporate profile and address the questions in the case.
General Electric, the company that Thomas Edison founded, and now the largest industrial conglomerate, in America produces a wide array of goods and services, from medical equipment, power generators, jet engines, and home appliances, to financial services and even television broadcasting (GE owns NBC, one of America’s big three network broadcasters). This giant company with revenues close to $180 billion is no stranger to international business. GE has been operating and selling overseas for decades. During the tenure of the legendary CEO Jack Welch, GE’s main goal was to number 1 or 2 globally in every business in which it participated. To further this goal, Welch sanctioned an aggressive and often opportunistic foreign direct investment strategy. GE took advantage of economic weakness in Europe from 1989 to 1995 to invest $17.5 billion in the region, half of which was used to acquire some 50 companies. When the Mexican peso collapsed in value in 1995, GE took advantage of the economic uncertainty to purchase companies throughout Latin America. And when Asia slipped into a major economic crisis in 1997-1998 due to turmoil in the Asian currency markets, Welch urges his managers to view it as a buying opportunity. In Japan alone, the company spent $15 billion on acquisition in just six months. As a result, by the end of Welch’s tenure in 2001, GE earned over 40 percent of its revenues from international sales, up from 20 percent in 1985. Welch’s GE, however was still very much an American company doing business abroad. Under the leadership of his successor, Jeffrey Immelt, GE seems to be intent on becoming a true global company. For one thing, international revenues continue grow faster than domestic revenues, passing 50 percent of the total in 2007. This expansion is increasingly being powered by the dynamic economies of Asia,...
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