the history of johnson and johnsons company


The organization of Johnson & Johnson is involved with research and development, sale, and manufacturing of a variety of health field products around the world. Johnson & Johnson has a consumer division which produces products used in skin, oral, baby, women's health, and wound care "which contributes 17 percent of revenues and 11 percent of operating profits (1)." The company also has a pharmaceutical division that produces several products in multiple therapeutic areas and "generates for 47 percent of revenues and 58 percent of operating profits (1)." The third division among the company is that of medical devices and diagnostics, offering everything from circulatory disease management and orthopedic joint reconstruction to disposable contact lenses. The "medical devices and diagnostics ...accounts for 36 percent of revenues and 31 percent of operating profits (1)." Johnson & Johnson is one of the top corporations of the pharmaceutical genre having a "Corporate Governance of 6-Nov-09 is better than 37.9% of S&P 500 companies and 94.9% of Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology & Life Sciences Companies (2)." From those figures Johnson & Johnson "generates about 40 percent of its revenues outside the United States, through its net work of 200 operating companies in 57 countries."

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In order to look into the depths of a culture at the immense corporation of Johnson & Johnson one must first grasp the factual definition of what culture is. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, culture is "the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also: the characteristic features of everyday existence shared by people in a place or time...: the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization".

The last segment of Merriam-Webster's definition is almost adjacent to Jerald Greenberg and Robert A. Baron's definition of where culture is defined as "The set of values, customs, and beliefs that people have in common with other members of a social unit (4)." On page 544, organizational culture is identified as a "cognitive framework consisting of attitudes, values, behavioral norms, and expectations shared by organizational members; a set of basic assumptions shared by members of an organization (4)." Thus having an increased knowledge of culture, we can now look into the basic nature of an organization's culture; which consists of five key principles: 1) an official definition, 2) characteristics upon which it is based, 3) the organization's cultural strength, 4) a realization of whether there may be only one or multiple cultures within an organization, and 5) how culture affects the function of the organization.

        Culture is as an identity that is derived from the history of the organization. After all, people are who they are because of where they come from, and an organization is not any different. Johnson & Johnson has an extremely strong influence of history within its culture that can easily be seen in the corporation daily. It was the Johnson brothers: Robert Wood Johnson, James Wood Johnson, and Edward Mead Johnson, who made Johnson & Johnson a reality, but why is the company called Johnson & Johnson when there were actually three brothers? "The reason is simple: even though Robert Wood Johnson had the idea for the company and led it until his death in 1910, the business is actually named after his two brothers. Robert Johnson was born in 1845 in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania (5)." At the age of sixteen Robert became an apprentice at a company belonging to his mother's cousin called Wood and Tittamer, a small pharmacy located in Poughkeepsie, NY.

        In 1846 Robert moved to New York to continue his new found career in the medication business. By 1873, he started a medical products business partnership with George Seabury. Their partnership relationship wasn't a first-class one, especially after Seabury recommended hiring his younger brother. Johnson in retaliation hired his two younger brothers, Edward in 1876 and James in 1878. During the summer of 1876, Robert Johnson attended a speech on antiseptic surgery by a British surgeon named Sir Joseph Lister. Robert gathered the idea to start a business that produced the first ever sterile surgical dressing. The idea of beginning a sterile dressing company became more appealing as disagreements between Johnson and Seabury spiraled out of control.

        Robert Johnson's younger brothers left Seabury and Johnson early in 1886 and went on to form a new company: Johnson & Johnson. This company was based on the idea of, none other than, creating and manufacturing sterile surgical dressings. Edward Mead Johnson had a gift in advertising and sales, while James Wood Johnson had his own gift in engineering, especially in designing and building updated production machinery. The modern Johnson & Johnson logo that is so recognizable was actually designed on James Johnson's signature. As soon as Robert Johnson was liberated of his obligations at Seabury and Johnson, he joined Johnson & Johnson which brought his specialized gifts in business, capital, and a personality with the ability to get Johnson & Johnson off the ground. Not long afterwards Edward became more involved with products helping with digestion. Edward left Johnson & Johnson in the late 1890's "to head the American Ferment Company, which made a product that helped infants who were unable to digest milk. In 1905 he changed the name to Mead Johnson & Company. The Johnson brothers knew something about starting successful businesses, because over 100 years later, Mead's company (which has no connection with Johnson & Johnson) is still going strong too."

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        James Johnson was looking for a building for the new born Johnson & Johnson to use as a factory. James was riding on a westbound Pennsylvania Railroad train that was coming through New Jersey.

"When the train slowed down to cross the Raritan River, Johnson looked out the window and saw a "To Let" sign on a four-story factory building in New Brunswick. Johnson ended up renting the fourth floor of the building, a former wallpaper factory, which became the first home of Johnson & Johnson. Besides having a convenient building for rent, New Brunswick was a rail, coach,waterway and commercial hub midway between New York and Philadelphia."

Johnson & Johnson started the company factory in this location with only 14 employees. Only a few years later, the company expanded into more nearby buildings as it grew and "by the end of 1894, the Company employed 400, and manufacturing and office space occupied 14 buildings (5)." These buildings that helped Johnson & Johnson get off the ground were all close to the Raritan River, which was a major source of water and transportation for the company. This location is where Johnson & Johnson Company's world headquarters remain today.

        "In an era when working conditions in many industries were being protested as being unfair and unsafe, Johnson & Johnson stood out for its enlightened approach to caring for its employees (5)." In 1906 Johnson & Johnson created a Company Welfare Department. This provided help and many benefits to employees in a time when there was not much help or benefits for factory workers. At Johnson & Johnson:

"Hospital and retiring rooms were set up to take care of employees who fell ill on the job, with doctors and nurses available to treat patients and give advice. A counseling service helped employees deal with family problems. A mutual benefit fund was started to provide help to employees during financial or medical crises."

Johnson & Johnson also was such a flourishing business that in order to meet production demands they began a night shift. In order to make night shift more attractive the company hired a French chef to prepare hot meals that would be served to the night shift employees. Living conditions in this era were not the best of class for factory workers, but Johnson & Johnson wanted to improve the conditions of their workers. The company "bought three blocks of houses in New Brunswick, fixed them up, and rented them to employees at reasonable rates. Maintenance costs were covered by the Company (5)." Johnson & Johnson went the extra mile to help those living in their housing, by taking the wooden crates in which materials were shipped, breaking the boxes up and delivering the pieces to employees for kindling. These steps that Johnson & Johnson took for employee satisfaction "earned the Company tremendous loyalty and it was not uncommon to find local families with multiple members and generations employed by Johnson & Johnson."

        The following year in 1907, Johnson & Johnson's grew rapidly. They had nearly 1,000 employees which double into 2,500 by 1908. By this time Johnson & Johnson had grew from its original 4th floor of a building into "35 buildings, which included a cotton mill, plaster-making facilities, laboratories across the river in Highland Park, sterile dressing manufacturing, offices, warehouses and shipping facilities, as well as manufacturing space where other products were made."

        Robert Wood Johnson died in 1910, but his son, named after him was ready to be a main character of Johnson & Johnson. Robert started working when he was a teenager at Johnson & Johnson as a mill hand. By the time Robert reached "the age of 25 he had become a vice-president, and he was elected president in 1932 (1)." Robert was described as "dynamic and restless with a keen sense of duty (1)" and became known as The General after his service as vice chairman of the War Production Board during World War II. Robert Johnson made an influential action in 1943 when he wrote the Johnson & Johnson Credo. The Credo of Johnson & Johnson has become far more than just a moral set of by laws for the company, but has become the company's statements of principle and uses it to reinforce their daily culture. When Robert Johnson created the Credo, he created something that would change working at Johnson & Johnson forever and build one of the greatest dominant cultures in the corporate world. Johnson & Johnson's Credo is a single page document that sets "forth our responsibilities to our customers, our employees, the communities in which we live and work, and lastly to our shareholders. We believe by focusing on our responsibilities to the first three groups of stakeholders, our shareholders will have a fair return."

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        The credo that Robert Johnson created has guided the business in decisions that have been made every day, and has caused the company to have a very strong culture. According to Johnson & Johnson, "The critical connection between our leadership competencies... and our Credo forms the basis for our ethical decision making process (7)." Johnson & Johnson's Ethical Decision-making process consists of: "1. Recognize the moral issue, 2. Discern the "right thing" ?Review the Credo for guidance ?Review policy for guidance ?Examine the ethical issues, 3. Test the alternatives, 4. Make the decision, 5. Revisit and reflect on the decision."

        Working with a Credo that is so significant to the corporation makes having a career at Johnson & Johnson a true experience of a significant culture. "The values expressed by Our Credo are at the center of what it feels like to work in our many small-company environments (8)." Johnson & Johnson's culture for an employee is fully respected. The company believes that "success only matters when employees are valued, respected, and treated fairly (9)." Seeing that employee happiness is a high priority at Johnson & Johnson, they have established some qualities that they encourage and reward. The first trait is that of Value-based leadership; "Our Credo outlines the values that provide the foundation of how we act as a corporation and as individual employees so that we continue to put the needs of the people we serve first (9)." The next trait is that of Diversity; Johnson & Johnson realizes that individual differences make an organization stronger as a whole.

"We recognize the strength and value that comes when collaborative relationships are built between people of different ages, race, gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, physical ability, thinking style, personal backgrounds and all other attributes that make each person unique".

Furthermore, innovation is highly embraced, "At Johnson & Johnson Inc., we encourage and reward innovative thinking, innovative solutions and an innovative approach in all that we do (9)." Then we arrive at the great attribute of Passion, and at Johnson & Johnson passion is "The deep desire to enrich people's lives - by delivering quality products and remarkable experiences that make their lives easier, healthier and more joyful (9)." Next is Collaboration; which is "The unwavering belief that great results depend on the ability to create trusting relationships (9)." The final trait is that of great importance, it is Courage; "The fearless pursuit of the unproven, unknown possibility-the willingness to take great risks for the benefit of the greater good."

Johnson & Johnson started out with a healthy organizational culture by taking care of their employees in the early 1900's and still try to maintain that same value of employees today. The credo at Johnson & Johnson is seen as the organizational memory and a ceremony being passed on through the company for years. Russell C. Deyo, General Counsel of Johnson & Johnson, says that the Credo is "built into our organization and the DNA of our employees. "

Johnson & Johnson was founded upon the principle of putting a positive effect and a helping hand to all those who come into contact with the company. The General, Robert Wood Johnson, stated that "every time business hires, builds, sells or buys, it is acting for the ... people as well as for itself, and must be prepared to accept full responsibility for its acts (7)." This philosophy of being accountable to the people touched by Johnson & Johnson is what has molded the corporation into the establishment it is today. The values practiced in the Credo have defined the expectations of employees and the culture of Johnson & Johnson Companies around the world.