Jack Welch, the former chair and CEO of the US corporate giant General Electric (GE), who has died at the age of 84, turned a dowdy appliance maker into a $600bn conglomerate and was hailed as the "high priest of the cult of the CEO" — a role model whose much-imitated Darwinist business philosophy put paid to the old paternalist traditions of corporate management.

Named by Time as the "Greatest Businessman of the 20th Century", Welch inspired hagiographic books with titles such as Jack Welch: an American Icon and Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Will: How Jack Welch Is Making General Electric the World's Most Competitive Corporation.

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