Ralph J. Cordiner

Ralph J. Cordiner

CEO: 1958-1963
The former washing machine salesman from Walla Walla, Wash., decentralized GE by creating 120 units that, as he put it, would be small enough “for one man to get his arms around.” The downside: an expanded bureaucracy. He was the force behind what became a 3,463-page management bible. GE’s profits barely moved.

STOCK RETURN
Full tenure was five years
45.1%