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At Any Cost: Jack Welch, General Electric, and the Pursuit of Profit Paperback – September 7, 1999
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O'Boyle, an editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, holds Welch personally responsible for various scandals over the years at some of GE's multifarious appendages, from contract fraud in its defense business (later sold) to faked crash tests of GM trucks on Dateline NBC. Welch's single-minded devotion to winning drives his subordinates to cut corners, O'Boyle suggests, though the author offers little evidence to implicate Welch in these or other lapses by a few of GE's 276,000 employees.
O'Boyle is actually more interested in nailing Welch for many of America's social problems. He believes that mass layoffs at GE in the 1980s made downsizing fashionable. GE's success in enriching shareholders encouraged other corporations to curry favor with Wall Street while ignoring their impact on the rest of society. The results have been catastrophic for many families and communities. So even in good times, American workers are plagued by a sense of insecurity. O'Boyle implies that Welch's pernicious influence can be seen in the divorce rate and even in the paranoia that produced the bombing of the Tulsa federal building.
Yet O'Boyle is not a class warrior or know-nothing populist. He recognizes that the drive and ruthlessness of people like Jack Welch have saved America from the economic stagnation of a Germany or Japan. Thorough in its reporting and finely written, At Any Cost is a plea for a kinder and gentler corporate capitalism, one mindful of its social consequences. O'Boyle does not have all the answers, but he raises important questions. --Barry Mitzman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
O'Boyle identifies some of the unpaid bills, including:
1) The human cost of GE's massive layoffs througout the 1980's. Welch embraced and greatly popularized the "layoff" approach to business: lay off bodies, save money, show more profit. But for every dollar the company profited, others lost. Much of the cost of the layoffs fell on individuals, families and communities that saw jobs at US-based GE operations vanish. This caused untold hardship to both families and governments, which had to rebuild shattered lives and communities. Not all survived, literally.
2) Welch took a rich and deep GE culture of research and development into technological fields, and utterly gutted it. GE's R&D abilities formerly covered a spectrum from steam turbines to appliances to jet engines to railway locomotives. Under Welch, GE's R&D arm became so weak and atrophied that the company's product lines lost the once commanding technological lead they formerly enjoyed. The company's future is betrayed. (Not satisfied with merely gutting GE's R&D, Welch purchased RCA and stripped its assets as well. Only NBC television remains in the GE fold as a major, former-RCA asset.Read more ›
Although O'Boyle closes his book speaking of Welch and GE in the past tense, I believe that his objective is to help. If O'Boyle and Welch haven't, I urge these Irish-Catholic gentlemen to read "The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism" by Michael Novak, a leading Catholic theologian. I am not a student of such matters, but Novak's and O'Boyle's books arrived on my bedstand almost simultaneously as result of absolutely unrelated activities. The possibility that this confluence of books was ordained prompts me to share my observations.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A well researched and reality-based view on the aims, actions, character, and the results of Welch's tenure at GM. Read morePublished 6 months ago by VA Systems Engineer
The culture at GE was forever changed by Jack Welch. Great read about how someone who had multiple chances to fail made it to the top. Read morePublished on January 29, 2012 by MidnightOil
While Welch eviscerated GE's employee roster, he turned the company into a holding company that tried to operate with as few humans as possible. Read morePublished on March 23, 2010 by Cap'n Trade
Let's be honest; other CEOs from Chainsaw Al to Carly Fiorina have tried to emulate Jack Welch. Their massive layoffs have caused untold misery and they've taken home gigantic... Read morePublished on August 9, 2006 by Coronet Blue
Business is designed to make profit. If people don't like that they can go live in the People Republic of China and see how it is to live in a society without our form of... Read morePublished on August 7, 2003
GE has a dark side that doesn't always make it onto the pages of Fortune or Jack Welch's self-serving autobiography. This book covers it.Published on December 10, 2001
The author seemed to have a lack of understanding of both economics and capitalism. His attitude is that because GE did things a certian way in the past that GE is morally... Read morePublished on May 10, 2000
How many times can an author complain about layoffs? While this book had a large amount of good information, and while I'd tend to agree with much of it, it became far to preachy... Read morePublished on February 11, 2000
Anti-corporate Cassandras grind axes to sparse audiences these days. In O'Boyle's piddling attempt to make us outraged at GE, he destroys his own credibility. Read morePublished on January 4, 2000 by Homer Price