Corporations: General Dynamics' Ordeal

Of the corporate giants born in the U.S. in the years after World War II, none grew so fast or so far as General Dynamics, now the 15th largest U.S. industrial company and the world's biggest privately owned military manufacturer. Big as it was, General Dynamics never really fused into a cohesive managerial or financial unity. And last week the fledgling giant was in sore trouble.

Barely four years ago, General Dynamics seemed the paragon of the U.S. defense business, a precocious infant that had come from nowhere to rack up earnings of...

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