Archives:The Strategy of System-Building Telecommunications and the American South, 1885-1920


Even under monopoly or public ownership, technological competitiveness may arise. In this case, the fight is not between firms or nations but between and among user groups, engineers, and managers. The object of this sort of struggle is not greater market share, higher profits, or sustainable advantages over rival producers, but something more fundamental: the nature, meaning, and purpose of a specific technology. This case study of the American South between 1880 and 1920 hopes to show how both of these types of competition affected the technology of telecommunications in that region, and how AT&T responded to these challenges by forging a new national competitive strategy. The implications of this study are that the definition of technological competitiveness should be broadened to include not only rivalry between firms for markets but conflicts and struggles between many actors involved in the creation of technology.

Citation and Link to Full Article 

Kenneth Lipartito, "The Strategy of System-Building Telecommunications and the American South, 1885-1920," in Technological Competitiveness: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives on Electrical, Electronics, and Computer Industries (Piscataway, NJ: IEEE Press, 1993), 157-175.