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A Leader's Introduction of Rapid and Radical Change into an Organization: A Case Study of Jack Welch and General Electric Open Access

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A Leader's Introduction of Rapid and Radical Change into an Organization: A Case Study of Jack Welch and General Electric This dissertation is a qualitative inquiry into the leadership practices that facilitate and enable a rapid and radical change in organizational culture. With the globalization of world markets and the accelerating speed of communications, leaders are faced with the daunting challenge to react to an ever-changing external marketplace. The ability to adapt organizational culture in response to these exogenous factors has become a critical success factor for businesses today.Scholars have repeatedly concluded that organizational culture is both resistant and slow to change. A review of the cultural changes orchestrated by Jack Welch during his tenure as CEO of GE confirmed the prospect and viabiity of planned, rapid and radical change in organizational culture challenging the conclusions of previous scholars. Eight senior executives of GE highlight the specific rapid and radical changes that they witnessed at GE and offer their insights as to how these changes were planned and executed. This inquiry uses Chin and Benne's (1989) three change management strategies (power-coercive, empirical-rational, and normative-reeducative) as a framework for investigation into the specific tactics used to facilitate and enable a rapid and radical culture change. Each of these three specific tactics were identified in this analysis of Welch's transformation of GE depending on the speed or degree of change required. The findings offer valuable insight to both the scholar of organizational dynamics and the practicing CEO.

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