Lights Out: Pride, Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric

Lights Out: Pride, Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric


How could General Electric - perhaps America's most iconic corporation - suffer such a swift and sudden fall from grace? This is the definitive history of General Electric's epic decline, as told by the two Wall Street Journal reporters who covered its fall. Since its founding in 1892, GE has been more than just a corporation. For generations, it was job security, a solidly safe investment, and an elite business education for top managers. GE electrified America, powering everything from lightbulbs to turbines, and became fully integrated into the American societal mindset as few companies ever had. And after two decades of leadership under legendary CEO Jack Welch, GE entered the twenty-first century as America's most valuable corporation. Yet, fewer than two decades later, the GE of old was gone. ?Lights Out examines how Welch's handpicked successor, Jeff Immelt, tried to fix flaws in Welch's profit machine, while stumbling headlong into mistakes of his own. In the end, GE's traditional win-at-all-costs driven culture seemed to lose its direction, which ultimately caused the company's decline on both a personal and organisational scale. Lights Out details how one of America's all-time great companies has been reduced to a cautionary tale for our times. AUTHORS: Thomas Gryta writes about General Electric for the Wall Street Journal. Previously he covered the telecommunications industry for the Journal and was a Knight-Bagehot fellow at Columbia University. In prior work around the newsroom he covered the biotechnology industry and did general assignment reporting and copyediting. Gryta studied history at the University of Massachusetts, including a year in Germany. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and three children. Ted Mann is a reporter in the Wall Street Journal's Washington Bureau, where he is part of a team covering business and government. He was the beat reporter covering General Electric and other industrial conglomerates for the Journal's corporate bureau in New York from 2014 to 2017, and previously covered transportation for the Greater New York section, where he broke the George Washington Bridge scandal that ensnared former governor Chris Christie and his aides. He is a graduate of New York University.

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