Growth, dominance and decline: insights from the histories of General Electric and Westinghouse

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Denise L. Fleck


The paper compares the growth trajectories of General Electric and Westinghouse during twelve decennia. While General Electric has enjoyed a continuing growth and a continued existence, Westinghouse grew but also experienced a three-decades long contraction and disappeared after 110 years of existence. The comparative analysis has revealed that apart from comparable capabilities in the development of high technology, the two firms differed in several respects. They played different roles in the structuring of the electrical industry and faced the challenges of increasing size in very distinct ways. Historical analysis suggests that General Electric has tended to develop managerial capabilities that have enhanced its chances of becoming self-perpetuating. Westinghouse, on the other hand, more often than not developed certain propensity for self-destruction.


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How to Cite
Fleck, D. L. (1). Growth, dominance and decline: insights from the histories of General Electric and Westinghouse. Journal of Contemporary Administration, 8(spe), 79-106.
Author Biography

Denise L. Fleck, McGill University

Ph.D. em Administração pela McGill University, Canadá. Professora Adjunta do Instituto de Pesquisa e Pós-Graduação em Administração da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro e Membro do Programa Internacional de Pesquisa Managing Innovation in the New Economy. Suas áreas de interesse em pesquisa são crescimento sustentado da empresa, mudança organizacional, capacitações organizacionais para o crescimento, dinâmica da inovação em processos de crescimento da firma, perfil de liderança em processos de crescimento da firma e de indústrias.