[Excerpt] In response to technological change and product market deregulation, longstanding U.S. telecommunications firms are radically restructuring their business strategies and organizations to improve competitiveness. While the popular and business press as well as academic researchers have focused attention on the dramatic changes occurring in the collapse of industry boundaries, megamergers, and the rise of new strategic alliances, they have largely ignored how these structural changes are profoundly altering the employment and careers of employees. In the Bell operating companies, where bureaucracy is seen as the major obstacle to competitiveness, managerial workers have become a significant target of reform because they are equated with bureaucracy and historically comprised approximately a quarter of the workforce.
This chapter analyzes how organizational restructuring is affecting managerial labor markets—the jobs, careers, and employment levels of line managers in Bell operating companies. It addresses a series of questions: How does organizational restructuring affect both employment levels and the nature of managerial work—the division of labor between the managerial and nonmanagerial workforce? How does it affect the career trajectories of lower and middle level managers? Are these changes leading to a loss of managerial power and a convergence in the working conditions of managerial and nonmanagerial workers? Or, conversely, do managers stand to gain from the flattening of hierarchies and devolution of decision making to lower organizational levels? Who wins and who loses in the process? Do new organizational cleavages and conflicts arise as a result?