'Ecomagination' at Work: GE's Sustainability Initiative|Business Ethics|Case Study|Case Studies

'Ecomagination' at Work: GE's Sustainability Initiative

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Case Details:

Case Code : BECG068
Case Length : 19 Pages
Period : 2005-2006
Organization : General Electric Company
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : The US
Industry : Diversified

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Towards A Cleaner Environment Contd...

The hydrogen production project was a part of GE's 'Ecomagination' initiative, launched in May 2005. Ecomagination, promoted as GE's commitment to sustainable development, was a large- scale program aimed at making the company a more responsible corporate citizen. It covered among other things, GE's efforts to enhance its investment in developing sustainable technologies, and increase its revenues from sustainable products, while lowering emissions and improving energy efficiency at its production plants. According to GE, Ecomagination would help the company "imagine and build innovative technologies that [would] help customers address their environmental and financial needs and help GE grow."

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GE was only one of the many large companies that had invested in sustainability in the early 2000s.

Notable among the others were Novartis AG, Unilever Plc., BMW AG, and energy and petroleum majors ExxonMobil Corp., Chevron Corp., and BP (formerly British Petroleum). According to analysts, sustainability initiatives were especially relevant for large companies that had a huge impact on the economy as well as the environment.

However, they added that most large companies were only indulging in 'greenwash' when they talked about their sustainability efforts. But GE's results in the first year after the launch of Ecomagination seemed to indicate that it was one of the few large corporations that were genuinely committed to sustainability.


GE's origins can be traced back to 1879, when Thomas Alva Edison (Edison) invented the first successful incandescent electric lamp. Edison was an entrepreneur as well as an inventor, and had started several small businesses dealing with power stations, wiring devices, and appliances during the late 1870s and 1880s. In 1890, he brought all these businesses together and combined them under the Edison General Electric Company (EGEC).

EGEC merged with the Thomas-Houston Electric Company in 1892 to form GE. The newly formed GE was headquartered in New York. In 1894, Edison gave way to Charles Coffin (Coffin) as the CEO of GE...

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