In 1982 the corporation of Johnson and Johnson experienced a major crisis that involved product tampering. Bottles of Tylenol, an over the counter analgesic, had been laced with cyanide and within two days seven people had died from using Tylenol capsules. Tylenol had 37 percent of the market for over the counter pain killers, before the poisonings, and was Johnson and Johnson biggest money maker.
The Tylenol product tampering clearly fits the Terrorism category. An external driving force, most probably, acted to hurt the customers as well as probably the employees of Johnson & Johnson.
What does "responsible corporate behaviour" constitute in such a situation?
A responsible corporate behaviour for Johnson and Johnson in such a situation should comprise a crisis team with a clear chain of command:
* Preparation and prevention
* Detection and Classification
* Response and Mitigation and
* Re-entry and Recovery
These efforts focus on establishing a strong corporate culture as well as using networks to share information and detect vulnerabilities (reference 1).
The specific team driven by supervision and control will seek for opportunities to make its new and existing products inherently safer. The best protection against this situation for J&J is to have good plans and systems in place and be ready to use them in order to decipher the problem as well as to find the best way to handle the tampering of Tylenol, without destroying the reputation of the company. Safety officers will have to make decisions swiftly in a calm and deliberate manner under an approved management framework. In order to be more specific J&J will first have to act rapidly, with complete openness about what had happened and remove all Tylenol capsules products, knowing that probably none will be laced with cyanide. Subsequently they have to take...