All Theses, Dissertations, and Capstone Projects

Year of Award



Master of Business Administration (MBA)


College of Business & Professional Studies

Degree Program



Business Administration


Telephone, Telegraph, Consent Decree, AT&T, Bell


Can the government run a business without owning it? This is a valid question for any taxpayer to ask, because the government is spending millions of dollars in trying. This thesis will take a look at this question as it deals with American Telephone and Telegraph or, as it is better known, AT&T. What will be shown is the governments inability to take on the largest company in the world and come out the victor.

To cover this question a person needs to look at more than the present happenings only. The entire history of AT&T needs to be looked at to give a better understanding of what changes have been caused by the government to this company. These changes have been taking place from the early 1900's until the present year of 1987.

This thesis will set forth the reasoning behind the question being looked at in the following order.

1. The history of AT&T will be covered from its very beginnings and show the effect the government has had on its business operations over the years.

2. The judges that were involved in the recent case that ended in divestiture for AT&T will be looked at in detail. The look at the judges will also include a review of their background and their handling of the case.

3. The consent decree will be presented in enough detail to show what restrictions were placed on the different parts of AT&T. It will also note that the guidelines for divestiture were made up by AT&T and not the judges.

4. The time since divestiture will be reviewed to see if it can be proved that the government really obtained what they wanted. The time and effort of both the operating companies and the court will be shown. Also shown will be the other areas of the government that have shown an interest in the case of U.S. vs. AT&T.

5. The summary will provide several conclusions that can be drawn based on the history presented and the present directions of this case.

The conclusion that will be shown is that the government can not run a company and that in some instances the phone company has cornered the government into actions benefiting AT&T. The statement still is "the government can not run the telephone business."

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
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