Dr. J. Robert Beyster’s employee ownership philosophy: “Someone who is involved with the company should own a piece of it;” and “Those who really perform well are rewarded by having their stock increased. People involved in the company should share in its success.”
He believed in this philosophy and as a result, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) grew into one of the largest and most successful companies in the world. Dr. Beyster knew that applying this philosophy of shared wealth and responsibility to other organizations can make a real difference in the economic lives of people everywhere. His trust in the power of employee ownership also led him to create the FED.
When he founded SAIC in 1969, Dr. J. Robert Beyster could have followed the more traditional American process of closely holding the stock of the company among himself and a few top managers. Instead, he chose from the very beginning to reward the performance of employees with stock ownership.
SAIC was founded as a scientific consulting firm with a handful of government contracts for nuclear power and nuclear weapons effects study programs. “I was not the brilliant, flash-of-inspiration type of entrepreneur,” said Dr. Beyster. “I was more of a persistent, builder type. Rather than having a grand design, we started with some contracts and a few people with ideas, and growth started to snowball.”
As SAIC grew, Dr. Beyster fought to preserve the values that had made the early SAIC successful—employee ownership, entrepreneurship, a flexible and decentralized organizational structure, technical excellence, high standards of ethical conduct, and a firm belief in customer service. He retired from the company in 2004.
Dr. Beyster received his B.S.E., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in engineering and physics from the University of Michigan. He began his career in the early 1950s as a senior scientist at Westinghouse. He then worked as a physicist at Los Alamos National Scientific Laboratory. He joined General Atomic in 1957 as chairman of the Accelerator Physics Department, where his research on neutron thermalization led to the publication of a book titled Slow Neutron Scattering and Thermalization, by Park, Nelkin, Beyster, and Wikner.
Dr. Beyster wrote or co-authored approximately 60 publications and reports, including the books The SAIC Solution: How we built an $8 Billion Employee-Owned Technology Company, the updated second edition The SAIC Solution: Built by Employee Owners, and Names, Numbers, and Network Solutions: The Monetization of the Internet.
Dr. Beyster passed away at his home in La Jolla on December 22, 2014, leaving behind a legacy that continues to have a lasting impact on people, businesses, and communities across the face of our nation—and around the globe.
More photos, videos, and stories available at www.beyster.com.
The J. Robert Beyster Papers are available at the UCSD Library Special Collections.