Globalization at General Electric: Discussion Questions Case Study

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Globalization at General Electric: Discussion Questions and Corporate Profile

Case Discussion Questions

GE has invested very aggressively in the foreign expansion of its company. There are several reasons why the company would do that. Among those reasons is the attempt to exploit opportunities in various countries that were or are having financial difficulties (Carlson, 1991). When the Asian Crisis hit, GE invested in Asia. When Europe was struggling, GE invested there, because it was a good financial move.

This appears to be a pattern with GE, which is actually a very smart way for a company to get more international influence and attention. Foreign expansion was considered by GE originally, because it saw an opportunity to get into the market in other countries, and it was able to do it at discounted rates. That was very important to GE, because the less money it spent on getting into the global market the more money it would have available for infrastructure, the hiring of employees, and the securing of even more areas in the U.S. And across the world where its products could be manufactured and sold (Fairly, 2005).

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Some may see GE as greedy, but really it is a company that is very smart about how it expands and what it has to offer to everyone. Because it makes so many different products, and because it is selling those products to a wider audience in more parts of the world, it needs to expand its company holdings beyond the United States (Carlson, 1991). It can be more difficult to keep track of things in other countries when all of the headquarters are in the U.S., also, so GE decided to make another bold move by establishing the headquarters of some of its divisions in different parts of the world.

If a company division was very involved in selling to Europe, for example, its headquarters were moved to London. Asian divisions were moved to Asian countries, and GE had the opportunity to reach out to more customers. It only makes sense to have a particular division located where it will do the most good for the most people and generate the most sales for the company.

Case Study on Globalization at General Electric: Discussion Questions and Assignment

2. GE is moving many of its global business headquarters to foreign locations (Mahon, 1990). These moves are greatly benefitting the overseas locations, but they can also benefit the United States. Foreign location benefits are relatively obvious. Some foreign countries are struggling with lowered wages and other economic issues. When companies like GE move into those kinds of countries, they are much more likely to help the countries improve their economies, because they have a lot to offer that other companies in that country might not have available.

In other words, they have the operating capital and other economic boost that is needed by developing countries or countries where the economy is currently weak. GE can also boost a country's economy by hiring many of its citizens to work for the GE division that has moved into that area. That will allow people who need good-paying work to get involved with a company that will treat them fairly.

For the United States, GE's moves into foreign countries can also be beneficial. More U.S. people will buy from a large, trusted company than from a company that they are unfamiliar with. The bigger name GE makes for itself, the better chance it has of making sales. Additionally, when certain divisions are moved to an overseas location, the divisions that remain in the U.S. can become the focus.

There is less stress, because the people who are running and working for the U.S. divisions have less on which they must focus (Carlson, 1991). They are not being pulled in every direction because there is simply too much with which to keep up. When that takes place, it allows the U.S. divisions of GE to prosper, and allows the people who work for the company to prosper, as well. That is highly beneficial to the U.S. And to any foreign countries in which GE has taken an interest. Overall, it is beneficial for everyone.

3. Internationalizing the ranks of senior management is something very important for GE (Carlson, 1991). This is done in order to make GE a truly global company and help it operate more easily in the sense that cultural and regional differences can be better understood. In other words, culture matters to GE, and when there is an international mix of people in the senior levels of management there is very little concern that one culture is being favored, ignored, or misunderstood.

Cultural misunderstandings are easy to come by, especially when there are many people working together, or when a large group of people get together and attempt to decide what would be best for groups of people who may be very different from them (Haney, 1944; Hammond, 1941). With that being the case, it is better to have a good mix of cultures, so that misunderstandings about a particular culture can be diffused and people can learn more about the people who are the main customers of a company like GE.

In the past, GE was mostly run by middle-aged, white, American men (Carlson, 1991). Over time, that has changed - and the diversity that it has created has been one of the best things GE could have ever done to help itself improve as a company. The reason why this is so significant ties in with the global expansion and large international presence of the company. In other words, if GE is interested in working internationally or globally, it is vital that the cultures with which GE will be doing business be represented by the senior management of the company (Carlson, 1991).

That helps GE stay on the right track with offerings and negotiations, but it also shows customers and potential customers that GE is interested in more than just making sales. GE wants to help customers get what they need, and that is difficult to do if the company does not understand the customers. By having a clear idea of what customers need based on their desires and their cultural attitudes, new and better products can be created, and these products can also be offered to customers in a way that they will accept and appreciate, which is beneficial to the company.

4. True global business can be seen in the GE example, because having a global business is more than just having a company with a U.S. location that is willing to sell its goods or services to people and companies in other countries (Carlson, 1991). That is certainly a start, and it is the level where most companies begin to go global. However, companies that remain at that level are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to getting more accomplished and taking their business to the next level. A truly global business is about the customers, and about their cultures (Carlson, 1991; GE, 2008).

Companies that are interested in competing in a global marketplace, and that are interested in growing their market share in international settings, must be aware of the differences between their home culture and the cultures of others. It all comes down to communication, which is easier when a company has a presence in a particular country. By moving its division headquarters to different places around the globe, GE has shown that it is deeply committed to having a true global and international business of which it can be proud (GE, 2008; Jeff, n.d).

It is not realistic for GE to have a presence in every country, or for the company to understand the nuances of every culture. It is important, though, to show that it is trying - as a company - to understand all of its customers and to provide those customers with what they really need from a company with which they do business. When they find a business like GE, which is committed to understanding and working with them, they will be more likely to buy from that business.

That is true even if they have to wait longer for the product or pay a higher price for what they are getting. By communicating with customers and by moving its division headquarters to a place where that division is most frequently needed, the dedication shows to the customers, and GE is better able to meet the needs of those customers for a price that they will be happy with and in a way that shows the company actually cares about the products it offers and the people who buy from it.

Corporate Profile

Company name/corporate headquarters location

The company profiled here is General Electric Company, commonly known as General Electric or GE. It is not to be confused with the British company of the same name. It has division headquarters in various places around the globe, but its main corporate headquarters are in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States (Carlson, 1991).

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