The GE McKinsey Matrix: A Strategic Framework for Business Portfolio Analysis

In the complex world of corporate strategy, companies with diversified portfolios need robust tools to evaluate their various business units. One such strategic framework is the GE McKinsey Matrix, developed through a collaboration between General Electric (GE) and McKinsey & Company in the 1970s. This matrix helps businesses assess their portfolios by evaluating each unit's market attractiveness and competitive strength, guiding decisions on investment, divestment, and strategic focus.

Understanding the GE McKinsey Matrix

The GE McKinsey Matrix, also known as the GE Business Screen, is a nine-cell (3x3) matrix that evaluates business units along two key dimensions:
Market Attractiveness (Y-Axis): This dimension assesses the appeal of the market or industry segment in which a business unit operates. Key factors influencing market attractiveness include market size, market growth rate, profitability, industry structure, technological advancements, and regulatory environment.
Competitive Strength (X-Axis): This dimension measures the ability of the business unit to compete effectively within its market. Factors considered include market share, product quality, brand strength, distribution channels, cost efficiency, and innovation capabilities.

Structure of the Matrix

The matrix is divided into nine cells, categorized into three zones:
Invest/Grow (High Attractiveness, High Strength): Business units in this zone are strong performers in attractive markets. These units are prime candidates for further investment and growth initiatives.
Hold/Selectively Invest (Medium Attractiveness and/or Medium Strength): Business units in this middle zone have moderate performance and potential. Strategic decisions may involve selective investment to improve their position or maintaining the current investment level while monitoring performance.
Harvest/Divest (Low Attractiveness, Low Strength): Business units in this zone operate in less attractive markets and have weak competitive positions. These units may be candidates for divestment or repositioning to maximize short-term gains.

Steps to Implement the GE McKinsey Matrix

Define Business Units: Identify and list all strategic business units (SBUs) within the organization.
Set Criteria for Evaluation: Determine the criteria for assessing market attractiveness and competitive strength. Assign weights to each criterion based on its significance.
Evaluate SBUs: Score each SBU against the established criteria for market attractiveness and competitive strength. Use quantitative data and qualitative insights for a comprehensive evaluation.
Plot SBUs on the Matrix: Position each SBU within the appropriate cell on the 3x3 grid based on their scores.
Develop Strategic Actions: Based on the SBU's position in the matrix, formulate strategic actions. This might include investing in high-potential units, divesting from low-potential units, or improving the competitive strength of moderate units.

Benefits of the GE McKinsey Matrix

Holistic Analysis: The matrix provides a comprehensive view of the portfolio by considering multiple factors for market attractiveness and competitive strength.
Strategic Insight: It helps in identifying where to allocate resources and which business units to prioritize, facilitating strategic decision-making.
Enhanced Communication: The visual representation of the matrix aids in effectively communicating the portfolio strategy to stakeholders.

Challenges and Limitations

Complex Implementation: Gathering accurate data and evaluating multiple criteria can be time-consuming and complex.
Subjectivity: The scoring process may involve subjective judgments, which can affect the objectivity of the analysis.
Dynamic Markets: The matrix provides a static snapshot and may not fully capture rapidly changing market dynamics.

Practical Application and Case Example

Consider a multinational conglomerate with diverse business units ranging from consumer electronics to healthcare. By applying the , the company can evaluate each unit's market potential and competitive stance. Suppose the consumer electronics unit scores high on market attractiveness and competitive strength. The matrix would suggest continued investment in this unit to capitalize on its growth potential. Conversely, a low-scoring unit, such as a declining manufacturing segment, might be earmarked for divestment or strategic repositioning.


The GE McKinsey Matrix remains a vital tool for strategic portfolio management, enabling companies to systematically evaluate and manage their diverse business units. By assessing market attractiveness and competitive strength, organizations can make informed decisions about where to invest, where to hold steady, and where to divest. Despite its complexities and the need for careful implementation, the GE McKinsey Matrix's structured approach provides valuable insights, helping businesses navigate the intricacies of portfolio management and achieve sustainable growth in a competitive landscape.
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