AT&T; Reorganizes Into 15 Autonomous Business Units

Times Staff Writer

American Telephone & Telegraph, in a move to decentralize its decision making, is organizing the company into 15 “businesses units” that each will be headed by a president who will be held responsible for the operation’s profits and losses.

AT&T; Chairman Robert E. Allen on Wednesday called the reorganization an attempt to respond to increased competition and the demands of customers for ever more specialized products and services.

“This is not an exercise in drawing new organization charts,” he said. “The changes are meant to heighten our focus on customers.” Allen said “the only chart I have in my mind” puts AT&T;'s customers on top, with the new business units and divisions beneath them.

Such a management structure turns on its head AT&T;'s traditional organization, the product of its long history as a monopolistic public utility set up to provide low-cost, reliable telephone service.


The company said the changes “are not expected to result in major dislocations” for AT&T;'s employees, most of whose jobs will remain basically the same under the realignment. There will be no changes in the company’s “office of the chairman,” which consists of Allen and three vice chairmen: Charles Marshall, Morris Tanenbaum and Randall L. Tobias.

AT&T; also is continuing, however, with a five-year program to trim 16,000 jobs--mostly operator and network maintenance positions--from a work force that now is about 304,000.

The change hardly comes as a surprise. Since the 54-year-old Allen succeeded James E. Olson, who died suddenly last April, he has emphasized the importance of imbuing the company with a strong customer orientation.

Some of the business units are being pieced together from parts of larger existing groups in the company. Others already exist but are being “tightly focused” on specific markets.


Wednesday’s announcement included the following business units and appointments: consumer products, headed by Kenneth M. Bertaccini; general business systems, led by Paul J. Wondrasch; business communications systems, John P. Bucter; AT&T; Paradyne (which makes data-communications equipment such as modems), John Mitcham; communications and computer products sourcing and manufacturing, Laurence C. Selfert, and material management services, Paul H. Caswell.

Also, Unix software, Lawrence F. Dooling; synchronous terminal products, Charles E. Yates; networked computing systems, including sales, will remain under group executive Robert M. Kavner, and AT&T; American Transtech (shareholder relations), William A. Hightower.

And Business communications services, John R. Smart; consumer communications services, Robert J. Ranalli; integrated communications systems, Alexander C. Stark; international communications services, John E. Berndt, and AT&T; international division, John A. Hinds.