Learning from GE in the Era of Corporate Governance

General Electric sign on GE Administration Building, Schenectady, New York, USA, May 30, 2009 | © Courtesy of Chuck Miller/Flickr.
General Electric sign on GE Administration Building, Schenectady, New York, USA, May 30, 2009 | © Courtesy of Chuck Miller/Flickr.

General Electric (GE), which is continuously in the top position in terms of sales, capitalization and “most admired corporations”, continues to be an example of good corporate governance. This is a function of the “principles” that previous corporate administrations have inspired by current managers and imposed on the culture and philosophy of the business. And yet, the transition from Jack Welch to the promising Jeff Immelt was accompanied by some disappointments.

A Blog Article by Dimitrios Koumparoulis.


The events of September 11, 2001, which resulted in the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York, cost GE the death of two employees, $ 600 million to GE’s insurance subsidiary, a direct drop in orders for its manufacturing operations, stakeholder anxiety and overall sales volatility, due to the economic situation.

Despite the difficulties, the speed of market reactions and the lower sales, Immelt succeeded in improving almost all corporate performance figures. However, even prior to this period, GE’s shares have experienced volatility, such as a drop in their value of 9.3% within 24 hours  from 10 to 11 April 2001.

In terms of corporate governance, a lesson given by GE is that the reaction speed must be well-balanced, prepared and immediate. Another lesson is given to us by Immelt himself: “Success in profitability indicators and good predictions for the future is not enough. The foreseeability itself is likely to be considered suspicious. Now we are talking about quality. ”

In 2001, this company has experienced a very difficult year that demanded sensitivity to corporate governance. The dealing of GE with attendant challenges suggests instructive insights. Two of these, taken from the Business Week publisher note, are listed below:

• Use of experienced executives, who have also been through past crises and recession times.

• Preparing for the recession from the “thick cow” era. Johnson & Johnson, which had been particularly successful at this difficult time, had begun to prepare for the recession that was coming about three years ago.

The quality of benefits (and therefore moral behavior), reaction speed, past experience and timely forecasts are some of the elements required for a proper corporate governance.

Written by Dimitrios Koumparoulis

Edited by Pablo Markin


Featured Image Credits: General Electric sign on GE Administration Building, Schenectady, New York, USA, May 30, 2009 | © Courtesy of Chuck Miller/Flickr.

Cite this article as: Dimitrios Koumparoulis, "Learning from GE in the Era of Corporate Governance," in Open Economics Blog, 14/01/2019, https://oeb.hypotheses.org/867.

Dimitrios Koumparoulis

Instructor of Economics, Department of Business Administration, University of the People, U.S.A., 2013- Instructor of Economics, Department of Economics, UGSM-Monarch Business School, Switzerland, April 2011-January 2013; Director of the Economic Department for almost a year and co-founder of the Doctor in Economics degree (6 intensive courses plus a dissertation) Supplementary lectures in both economic and quantitative papers and with the occupation of the ph.d. candidate, Department of Public Administration, Panteion University of Political and Social Sciences, Greece, 2004-2008, Advisors: Prof. Nikolaos Karavitis (General Secretary of the Hellenic Statistical Authority, 1997-2004), Prof. Vassiliki Oikonomaki-Malindretou and Prof. Ioannis Vavouras (Former Rector of the Panteion University, 2000-2004)

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