Public Relations Inquiry as Rhetorical Criticism: Case Studies of Corporate Discourse and Social Influence

By William N. Elwood | Go to book overview

EPILOGUE

Many events have occurred within the new company since March 1991, the ending point of this chapter's analysis, and some of them are contrary to AT&T's promises. Below are ten key occurrences.

First, Exley claimed that everyone who had a stake in the success of the new enterprise should help welcome AT&T to NCR headquarters. Robert Allen announced that any job cuts from consolidation will come from AT&T's ranks. Lee Hoevel, NCR's vice president for technology and development, said he would promote "techie bonding" between his people and those at Bell Laboratories ( Coy, 1991a). A transition team was employed to set goals and to define a mission. One writer stated that the success of the merger depended on whether AT&T would continue to let NCR manage things ( Barker, 1991).

Second, AT&T announced a converged product line strategy based on NCR's System 3000 family. AT&T Computer Systems' Extended Industry Standard Architecture machines were discontinued. The merged organization's stated goal was to establish leadership in open systems integration ( Arnaut, 1991).

Third, AT&T sought new talent from outside the company. Chairman Robert Allen chose Jerre L. Stead to head the business communications unit and Alex J. Mandl as chief financial officer ( Coy, 1991 a).

Fourth, Exley retired as chairman on February 18, 1992, when the merger was legally completed. He was replaced by Gilbert Williamson, former NCR president. Exley stated that a number of AT&T networking software and networking hardware products would be released for the NCR sales organization. NCR was gradually converting customers for AT&T's workstation line to its line. The impact of the merger on the two firms was perceived positively ( Booker, 1991). In September 1992, one year after their companies merged, Robert Allen and Gilbert Williamson held a press conference at which they reported that the merger is working. Williamson called it a smooth transition; NCR adhered to its basic business plans and has operated a profitable computer business ( Hammer, 1992).

Fifth, NCR service representatives--who took over service and support for the Information Systems Network when AT&T purchased the company--were criticized by users for being unfamiliar with the product, delivering the wrong parts, and concluding service and repair work before the job is finished ( Duffy, 1992).

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