Saturday, April 28, 2001

At any cost

At Any Cost: Jack Welch, General Electric, and the Pursuit of Profit
There's more to it than a good-looking bottomline. For one, there's people -- you and I.
Gautam Chikermane
The bottomline: this is one of the most disturbing books I've ever read. One that is making me question my beliefs, convictions, and expectations out of my money, in a way that no other has. It is harsh in its straightforwardness, unpretentious in its balancing of values that run counter to one another. The hypothesis -- that beyond a point, capitalism, competitiveness and the free market need to be controlled -- is convincing: reduntant workers committing suicide on being laid off, dangerous radioactive chemicals running amuck in clear streams, bribes, illegal price fixation, ugly defence deals. The treatment is ruthless. And it reads like a thriller.
The book is not so much about Jack Welch and the company he heads -- General Electric, the world's most valuable company (its market capitalisation on November 23: $309.2 billion, or Rs 12,97,800 crore, against India's GDP of Rs 11,49,000 crore) -- or the management trends of the US economy, or even the ghastly acts that respected companies commit in trying to reach their ends, as it is about you and I, and our place in the new capitalism. An otherwise fine -- possibly the best proven -- system that has reached its nadir. A point where the bottomline is everything.
Book review in Outlook Money

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