During the proxy campaign, dissident director Walter Hewlett said technology mergers don't work. Compaq Chief Executive Officer Michael Capellas said executives have learned from its mistakes. Too many sales people were fired and employees didn't know who their bosses were, he has said.
When H-P considered buying PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP's consulting division in 2000, investors said they worried that the cultures were too different and consultants wouldn't want to work for the computer maker.
The brands that survive the Compaq acquisition will influence employee attitudes, Doherty said. Some Compaq employees may have to move to Palo Alto, California, where Hewlett-Packard is based and some Hewlett-Packard employees may go to Houston.
Hewlett-Packard is known for the "H-P Way," a philosophy that emphasizes compassion and giving workers a say in decisions.
The contrast with Compaq is evident in how the companies approached job cuts last year.
In March, Compaq said it would fire 5,000 workers because of slumping sales. By July, it had increased the number to 8,500.
Hewlett-Packard in June said it didn't want to fire anyone and asked employees to take a pay cuts or additional vacation days. Almost all the employees did so.
A month later, the company stunned employees by announcing that it would fire 6,000. Fiorina said the cuts were necessary because demand for PCs and printers had fallen.
"The management's real task is to create harmony or at least understanding and resolution among the middle rank and file," Doherty said.