From Maternalism to Accountability: The Changing Cultures of Ma Bell and Mother Russia

James Benjamin Shaw, Cynthia D Fisher, W. Alan Randolph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This article is about organizations changing from cultures of maternalism to cultures of accountability, and changing from environments of monopolistic security to competitive uncertainty. We examine these change processes using examples from two seemingly diverse situations—the American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) divestiture and the Soviet Union under perestroika. Although there are vast differences in the political and cultural heritages of organizations in the Soviet Union and the United States, we point out some important similarities in the problems and opportunities faced by U.S. and Soviet managers. We examine the similarities of pre-and post-change environments in AT&T and Soviet organizations. We also describe common forces that have resisted change in both situations and how AT&T Soviet leaders have tried to overcome resistance. Finally, some "lessons to be learned" about organizational change from these diverse situations are outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-20
Number of pages14
JournalThe Executive
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 1991


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