Sources of Competitive Advantage for General Electric (GE)

There are various ways that organizations or business firms can achieve competitive advantage in the market. Moore (2000) suggests that technology is the main driver of sustainable competitive advantage in an increasingly volatile and turbulent environment. He considers new-wave technology as the highest form of competitive advantage that replaces obsolete technologies of the past. The second source of competitive advantage according to Moore (2000) is value chain. Domination of a value chain involves the transformation of inputs into outputs with greater value in order to meet customer needs. Therefore, enhancing a good value chain creates a sustainable competitive advantage for the business. Market segment leadership is also another driver for sustainable competitive advantage. Development of special products and services through the value chain satisfies niche markets and creates market segment leadership for organizations. Such a segment leadership leads to competitive advantage for the organization.

Business firms may also gain competitive advantage through strategy execution in various value disciplines. Value disciplines include operational excellence, product leadership and customer intimacy (Mintzberg et al., 1998). If a company achieves these value disciplines, it can be able to obtain competitive advantage in the market. Finally, firms may also obtain competitive advantage through differentiated offerings. Technology, value chain, market segments and value disciplines transform into differentiated offerings; the ideal source of competitive advantage. In order for organizations to obtain competitive advantage through differentiated offerings, it is important for them to first build their technologies, value chain domination, segment leadership and value discipline executions. Let us now see if the initiatives in tables 4 & 5 of Inkpen (2009) are part of these sources of competitive advantage.

Sources of Competitive Advantage for GE

The GE initiatives put in place before Jeff Immelt took over power as the CEO include those initiatives that focus on customer needs in order to offer differentiated products and services for customers. However, there are no clear initiatives which indicate the use of technology as a way of promoting differentiated offerings in order to obtain competitive advantage. The first initiative was “Best Practice Sharing” which identifies effective approaches and spreads them across the company’s business. This indicates that the company the company develops a value-chain approach within its operations in order to create value for customers. Another initiative which acts as a source of competitive advantage is Multigenerational Product Development Plan. This initiative ensures that new products are developed in such a way that they evolve with and meet customer needs. This differentiates the company’s offerings to customers, hence earning a competitive advantage for the company (Barney, 1995). The company also used the six-sigma initiative to bring the company’s product defects below 3.4 defects per million opportunities. This enhances a good value chain and creates product value and differentiated offerings for customers; hence causing competitive advantage for the company.

Although technology was not mentioned in these initiatives, the nature of GE’s business leads us to conclude that the product development initiatives and the six sigma initiatives were made possible through technology. Therefore; technology, value-chain and differentiated offerings served as key sources of competitive advantage for the company.

Since Jeff Immelt became the CEO of GE, technology was mentioned in the company’s initiatives. One of the initiatives was that of CECOR Marketing Framework which connects various innovation and other growth tools to market opportunities and customer needs (Inkpen, 2009). This leads to market segment leadership and differentiated offerings as key sources of competitive advantage for the company.

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