The Jack Welch Era at General Electric
John Francis “Jack” Welch Jr. was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General
Electric Company between 1981 and 2001. He was responsible for building a tremendous
reputation for his company and the leadership that helped him achieve that. With combination of
ruthless focus and contradictory commitment to staff involvement, Welsh delivered the growth
figures that could only be dreamed of by smaller companies. Under his leadership, General
Electric thrived like never before and he took the world as he found it, by following basic rules,
broking a few and in those terms performed to his utmost. Within those twenty years he
accomplished things no other CEO had in GE's history; he fulfilled the company's primary
economic responsibilities to society and communities around the world by turning it into an
exceptionally profitable conglomerate.
Social Responsibility at General Electric
Jack Welch’s tenure at General Electric is often used as a model for corporate social
responsibility. “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) refers to operating a business in a
manner that accounts for the social and environmental impact created by the business.”
 In Welch’s era, GE fulfilled its responsibilities to society by serving customers worldwide
and stimulating the economy. His popularity was shared with opposing views. There were those
who despised him because of the jobs lost and those who shared his vision because they became
rich off of it. There are many aspects in the way he restructured the company that would play to
the social responsibility tactics. “Welch has gone on record as saying that he believes the time
has passed when making a profit and paying taxes was all that a company had to worry about.”
 He stood by his vision and in turn made General Electric a very successful company.
According to Milton Friedman, the social responsibility of business is to make profits.
“That responsibility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of the society,
both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.”  Both Welch and
Friedman shared the vision to make money, but their views on social responsibility were
similar. Friedman believed in obeying the law while making profits and Welch believed in the
financial success of the company. Welch’s vision was that every GE business would be the best
in their industry. For that reason, it’s apparent that GE under Welch does illustrate a narrower
view of corporate social responsibility closer to Friedman’s views.
Under Welch’s management, General Electric failed to comply with the General
Principles of Corporate Social Responsibility. Companies should always be honest, ethical an
devoted to the well being of their environment and the public they serve. While his motto was to
make a profit, he did so by doing some questionable things. Welch's years as CEO have not
been free of controversy and criticism. With so many acquisitions and divestitures, GE became
what Welch set out to make of it, a powerful conglomerate.
Ranking shareholders over employees and other stakeholders can have both pros and
cons. There are several strengths when it comes to ranking shareholders higher than employees
and other stakeholders. Shareholders have to be invested in the company because they have part
ownership and it’s beneficial to them that they work harder to be successful. The only beneficial
thing to an employee and stakeholders is the job they posses which pays them their salaries and
incentives so it is not really important that the company does well. Shareholders also hold some
weaknesses because they...
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