Disconnected: How Six People from AT&T Discovered the New Meaning of Work in a Downsized Corporate America

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Free Press, 1998 - Business & Economics - 214 pages
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The economy is booming, yet healthy, profitable companies continue to lay off hundreds of thousands of employees and downsizing has become a permanent part of the landscape of corporate America. In "Disconnected", acclaimed journalist Barbara Rudolph puts a human face on this new economic reality, through intimate portraits of six people whose lives were irrevocably changed when they lost their jobs at AT&T.

When they were cut loose from the corporate fold at AT&T -- an American icon that once promised lifetime job security and claimed the unquestioning allegiance of its employees -- these six people made a difficult transition from the old world of work to the new one. Rudolph takes us inside the lives of Maggie, a feisty telephone operator whose job was made obsolete by technology; Tom, a brilliant executive who survived unscathed through childhood polio and the Vietnam War, but never fulfilled his early promise; Vince, a soft-spoken manager, son of the first black general counsel at GM, who found strength in his father's legacy; Barbara, a self-sufficient salesperson who learned to move on; Larry, a blunt-speaking, rumpled-looking Bell Labs engineer, who was bolstered by early fame; and Kyle, a strategist who discovered how to land on his feet and look out for himself.

These are moving tales of resilience and triumph, terror and redemption. With empathy and a reporter's instinct for telling detail, Rudolph eloquently portrays the full impact of downsizing on her individual subjects and their families. Each struggled to reclaim a sense of self in the wake of this loss. Each emerged with radically different notions of loyalty, commitment, and personal responsibility.

Many of us have made this journey; many others will. Through these six lives, Rudolph sheds new light on the connection between work and identity, between who we are and what we do. What does it mean today to be a company man or woman in an environment defined by bald individualism and emotional detachment? And most important, how do we find security and meaning in the unmapped territory of the new world of work? The people who survive share something precious, Rudolph concludes: "They have come to comprehend their value, independent of their corporate identity. They have claimed their personal dignity."

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Disconnected: how six people from AT&T discovered the new meaning of work in a downsized corporate America

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Journalist Rudolph (Forbes, Time) puts a human face on the history of AT&T, its evolving organizational culture, and the impact that the company's 1996 corporate downsizing had on six members of its ... Read full review


ContinuumVincent Smith
A Changing Corporate Culture

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About the author (1998)

Barbara Rudolph has spent more than a decade as a writer at Forbes and Time. Her articles have also appeared in Fortune, Inc., Redbook, and Family Circle. She lives in New York City. This is her first book.

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