• U.S.

MANAGEMENT: Employers Are Guilty

2 minute read

Robert Wood Johnson is a big businessman who rarely talks like one. When he does talk, the board chairman of Johnson & Johnson (surgical dressings) tells businessmen what they don’t like to hear.

At a luncheon of the American Management Association last week, Johnson once more made them squirm. Said he: “Employers are guilty. We stand convicted at the bar of public opinion of crimes in the field of human engineering. … In the mind of the man in the street, management is condemned.”

Management’s main crime, according to Johnson, is “executive myopia … a disease of those with high rank … organized razzle-dazzle, the derangement of top management, otherwise known as ‘industrial bureaucracy.’ ” Specifically, business has “plunked for the lowest wages” when it should have become the “champion of the underpaid. … Is there no one in business who will think of being ahead of the next catastrophe instead of running after the one that has already happened?”

What should be done, said Johnson, is to establish personnel departments which would see that workers get: 1) a sense of security, 2) fair wages and short hours, 3) qualified and fair-minded foremen and department heads, 4) opportunity for advancement, 5) consideration as individuals.

How did Johnson expect to sell his ideas to conservative management? Johnson’s answer: “I don’t know. If ten years of depression and six of war economy have not taught our American management this lesson, I think it is beyond the pale and I am afraid they cannot be educated. I am afraid the job is going to be done by militant labor. It seems too bad.”

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