GE - Ethics and Social Responsibility*



Case Code : CLSDM044
Publication date : 2005
Subject : Sales and Distribution
Industry : Media and Entertainment
Length : 04 Pages
Price : Rs. 100

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Key words:

General Electric (GE), PCBs, Hudson River, INFACT, Jeffrey Immelt, GE Learning Center, Reputation, Social Responsibility, Shareholders


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This caselet gives an overview of social responsibility initiatives undertaken by GE under the leadership of John Immelt. It discusses the lack of social responsibility exhibited by GE in the early years and its impact on the company's image. It gives a detailed description of social responsibility measures in GE in the early 2000s, which resulted in recognition by way of several awards.


Importance of social responsibility by corporates
Methods of social responsibility by corporates


In the 1950s, General Electric (GE) dumped their PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) effluents into the Hudson River, to reduce their cost of waste treatment. Though this helped GE achieve better profit margins on a short-term basis, it resulted in contaminating the water and slowly poisoning the fish in it.

This attracted a lot of criticism from the government as well as the general public, which forced the company to discontinue its disposal methods...

Questions for Discussion:

1. Jeff Immelt wants to instill values in everything the company does--without compromising the profit principle. How has he managed to balance the social responsibility initiatives and profit earning objectives of GE? How far do you think he would be able to sustain the same?

2. GE has transformed itself from being a profit oriented company to being a corporate citizen. It has survived despite coming in the red for its unethical practices and found favor with the general public by various initiatives. How has the society and other stakeholders played a role in influencing the reputation of the company