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Case Two: GE Healthcare in India

Name: Aaina Jaiswal


Student Number: 500 508 476
Professor: Jian Guan
Due Date: February 3rd, 2015
GE Healthcares pioneering efforts in investing in a developing country and
developing ultrasound machines that are more affordable made many medical treatments
accessible to the poorer people of rural India. GE Healthcare in India has been criticized
since its ultrasound machines have been used in conjunction with attempts to abort
female babies. In many parts of India, daughters are seen as burdens and the preference
for sons has manifested itself in very terrible mortality rates for daughters. By introducing
ultrasound screenings at affordable prices, GE Healthcare has made it easier for people
who previously could not afford a sex-selective abortion to have one.
In 2007, GEs operations in India are targeting a growth rate of 20% over their
previous years 10% growth (Wicks, Freeman, Werane & Martin, 2010). V. Raja, the
CEO and President of GE Healthcare India, is in charge of maintaining this growth for
the company but he has to consider the ethical ramifications of the companys actions.
This is because there has been a rise of illegal prenatal sex determination procedures
taking place without the proper paperwork (which violates Indias Prenatal Diagnostic
Techniques Act of 1994). The government of India is trying to maintain a balanced
growth of both sexes in the economy. Indias current ratio is 1.08/1 male/female while the
global standard is 1.01:1 males/females (World Factbook). Conforming to the global
standard is extremely difficult with households getting abortions for excess females in the

family. These families chose to abort their female children because of a multitude of
reasons. Ever increasing dowries, bloodlines being passed, parents being tended at
retirement and the future bread winner of the family all favour males over females in
India. Beyond these issues, GE Healthcares strategy has promoted these practices even
further through the easy access of their equipment that has caused a lot of problems in the
cultural climate of India. It is up to V. Raja to find an alternate solution that takes into
consideration both GE Healthcares growth and Indias cultural prosperity.
I would argue against the premise that increasing public access to medical
instruments has been, overall, a positive thing for India and to know whether ultrasound
devices have been better or worse off for India it would be important to know how its
products are used in the social context. Placing restrictions on the ultrasound machines
that raise the price of ultrasounds may actually worsen the situation since it would make
families who want ultrasounds and patients who need ultrasounds for medical treatments
poorer off and less able to afford healthcare and other needs.
The specific sales tactics, the financing structures, and the overall incentives that
result from sales to different customers may end up playing a significant role in shaping
the behaviour of the doctors and health care workers in this case. It may be that taking a
less aggressive approach to sales, and creating more flexible terms for some customers,
may significantly reduce the incentives of these stakeholders to create markets for this
use of ultrasounds or go along with requests from parents for it.
There is a bunch of actions that GE Healthcare managers can take such as
complying with the letter of the law, ultrasounds to restrict access, and implementing
greater oversight of the ultrasound machines. Actively seeking to change womens rights

in India might draw some attention, as well as restricting access to the machines will
likely be quite expensive, and potentially reduce access to healthcare. In some regions in
India, show no sex ratio gap and incredible degrees of gender equality. Perhaps one way
that GE Healthcare could work to reduce sex-selective abortions might be to sponsor
soap operas that depict women and daughters positively in order to change the public
perception of women so that parents will value their daughters.

Reference:
Wicks, A., Freeman, R., Werhane, P., & Martin, K. (2010). Ethics and business. In S.
Yagan (Ed.), Business Ethics (pp. 22-23). New Jersey: Person Education, Inc.