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General Electric and the Financial Crisis of 2008 Case Study


With its unique ability to manage expenses and follow the principles of financial sustainability, GE had been enjoying stunning success in the global market up until the financial crisis of 2008. The financial challenges that the organization survived at the identified time slot made it put its success on the map and explore new opportunities.

An analysis of the choices that the company made after the infamous crisis of 2008 will shed light on how firms can cope with unexpected financial challenges and, therefore, provide the framework for maintaining successful performance even through the most difficult times. Although GE’s success is often attributed to the significant amount of financial assets that the company has, it owes its survival through the 2008 crisis to the careful and well-thought-out plan of investing in the industrial division, therefore, cementing its position in a specific market.

Table 1. SWOT.

  • Exploring the emerging markets (e.g., India, China, Latin America, etc.);
  • Increase in cash balance;
  • Ability to meet the improved quality standards set after the crisis;
  • Financial issues caused by the financial losses and recession that the company witnessed in 2008-2009;
  • Slow application of changes
  • Financial growth due to the improvements in the risk management framework;
  • Improvement in the quality of services and products due to the update of the quality standards;
  • Exploration of the renewable energy sector;
  • Enhancement of the electrical energy division;
  • The pursuit of the position of a wind turbine manufacturer;
  • Support of the green energy movement as the opportunity for improving the quality standards and meeting the current environmental requirements.
  • Changes in the interest rates that may contribute to a rapid downfall of the company;
  • Possible financial issues due to the necessity to invest in the staff’s professional growth;
  • Corporate greed as one of the stumbling blocks for the further progress of the company.

The analysis carried out above shows quite clearly that GE has been making significant progress since the 2008 crisis. The firm has been using the available opportunities to its advantage quite successfully.

For instance, the focus on the usage of renewable energy can be deemed as an especially sensible step to take in the wake of the environmental awareness era. However, some of the strategies, especially the ones regarding human resource management (HRM) processes, could use some improvements. For example, GE should invest more in its staff’s professional growth. By encouraging the employees to engage in the active acquisition of the relevant knowledge and skills, the organization will boost their loyalty levels to a considerable extent. As a result, GE’s competitive advantage will increase.

Table 2. Porter’s Five Forces

The threat of new entrants: low Even despite its problems stemming from the financial crisis of 2008, GE remains a powerful competitor with a long and proud history, which means that there are very few organizations that can match its power in the global market.
The threat of new substitutes: low GE’s services are outstandingly diversified, which means that the threat of new substitutes is very low in the global market for GE.
Bargaining power of buyers: medium (varies) The bargaining power of buyers depends on the division of GE; however, in general, it is low to medium since GE remains one of the key organizations producing aviation systems, offering AC/DC power supplies, etc. The services such as commercial lending and leasing, however, increases the customers’ purchasing power due to the availability of similar services and offers.
Bargaining power of suppliers: low GE purchases a significant amount of raw material from its suppliers, which reduces their bargaining power considerably.
Competitiveness: high Overall, the diversification of the company’s services allows it to retain an impressive amount of power in the realm of the global market. Even after the 2008 crisis, due to the focus on expansion and the diversification of its services, GE has remained at the top; therefore, cementing its position as a global innovator.

A closer look at the changes that GE has experienced since 2008 shows that, while in need of recovery, the organization is ready to expand into the global market. While there are some minor issues that need to be addressed, the company has set the course for innovations and the exploration of the emerging opportunities, especially as far as technology is concerned. Coupled with the low bargaining power of suppliers and the low levels of new entrants, the competitive advantage that GE managed to retain throughout the economic crisis of 2008 is bound to serve as the foundation for further economic growth.


Using the Capital Asset Pricing Model will help shed more light on the challenges that GE was suffering at the time, as well as the challenges that lay ahead of it. Particularly, the fact that the organization had to work very hard on its internal business unit so that the performance thereof could be improved deserves to be mentioned. As the analysis provided below shows, the rates of return on some of the risky assets owned by the organization were admittedly high even at the time when GE was forced to deal with rather intense rivalry in the target market and handle significant financial complications.

Table 3. CAPM: GE.

Rates of Return
Variance SD
2007 13.2 3.338 1.827019431
2008 10.0
2009 7.2
2010 8.4
2011 9.9
Systematic Risk (β)
Variance (GE) 3.338
Variance (GE Capital) 0.053
Covariance 0.23
Covariance/SD(GE)xSD(GE Capital) 0.545
Covariance/Variance(GE Capital) 0.069
Average 0.48
Rates of Return
Rf 2.01%
E(Rm) 11.16%
Systematic risk 0.48
E(R(GE)) 6.4%

As the calculations provided above show, GE has a certain amount of assets that it can use in the target market to explore new opportunities. Granted that the identified percentage of CAPM could be somewhat higher, there are chances that GE can pursue in the target economic environment. That being said, it is crucial that the firm should focus on building its competitive advantage. In light of a comparatively moderate CAPM rate, GE needs to reconsider its current approach to managing its resources, including its employees. Investing in the staff members and focusing on the development of a sustainable approach toward the use of the available resources should be the primary goal of GE.


The performance levels of the organization can be deemed as moderately positive. A closer look at the changes that the organization has experienced will show that the focus on the further expansion and exploration of other markets can be considered the essential impetus for change. While the identified propensity shown by GE can be considered rather positive, there are other areas that will have to be considered alongside the expansion plans. Particularly, investing in the staff members so that they could feel secure, acquire new skills, and develop the motivation to excel in their performance should be included in the range of the company’s objectives.


The mission of the company currently suggests that the firm is aimed at exploring new horizons and chasing new opportunities in the context of the global market. Although admittedly positive, the idea mentioned above could use certain improvements. Particularly, the emphasis on quality enhancement and care for the key stakeholders should be included in the company’s mission as well. Thus, the foundation for increasing loyalty levels among customers and employees alike will be built.

As a result, rapid growth in revenues will be facilitated. Furthermore, the performance levels can be increased significantly by introducing models such as Six Sigma and the Total Quality Management (TQM) framework. The specified tools will create the foundation for continuous change that will become part and parcel of the corporate philosophy.


Table 4. EFAS.

Strengths Weight Rating Weighted Score
Emerging markets exploration 0.15 4 0.6
Cash balance 0.15 4 0.6
Quality management technique 0.375 4 1.5
Subtotal 2.7
Weaknesses Weight Rating Weighted Score
Financial concerns 0.2 3 0.6
Slow progress 0.25 2 0.5
Subtotal 1.1
Total 3.8

Table 5. IFAS.

Opportunities Weight Rating Weighted Score
Financial grow 0.01 5 0.05
Renewable energy 0.01 5 0.05
Green energy 0.01 4 0.04
Electric energy 0.02 5 0.05
Wind turbine manufacturer 0.02 6 0.06
Subtotal 0.25
Threats Weight Rating Weighted Score
Financial concerns 0.1 5 0.5
Corporate greed 0.2 5 1
Subtotal 1.5
Total 0.4

As the analysis of the internal and external factors affecting GE shows, the company has a lot of pressure coming from the outside, particularly from its competitors. Furthermore, the fact that the quality standards have been renewed points to the fact that the current approach adopted by the organization could use an update. Finally, GE should consider investing in its staff members so that the promotion of their professional growth could become a possibility.

The identified challenges, however, seem to be quite manageable given the assets that the IFAS analysis has revealed. GE has a lot of potential in terms of its technological development, products and services diversification, and quality management. Thus, by setting the course for the identified improvements, the organization will be able to become the leader of the global market.


Despite the fact that GE has suffered from the 2008 crisis significantly, it managed to handle the economic difficulties not solely by the merit of its financial assets but also by a careful assessment of the available financial opportunities and the reconsideration of its investment strategies. Particularly, the shift to the industrial market area could be viewed as the daring choice that made it possible for GE to identify new opportunities and explore them. The introduction of an improved risk management strategy was one of the crucial steps in the right direction, yet the organization is yet to explore the concepts of green economy and healthcare.

Furthermore, it is strongly suggested that GE should consider investing in its human resources. By building the employees’ loyalty levels, the firm will create the foundation for consistent improvement of its product quality. Particularly, the promotion of the appropriate corporate values, including the idea of consistent learning and regular acquisition of new skills, will become possible. Thus, GE will be capable of changing its current corporate philosophy toward the idea of unceasing growth, working its way to becoming a leader of the target market.

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