Mr. Smith Shakes Up Detroit

A new-style GM chairman is restyling the largest automaker

Chairmen of the board at General Motors tend to be bland organization types. Though they command a vast $60 billion industrial empire that controls more than 60% of the U.S. automobile market, none in recent decades has had the public impact of Henry Ford II or Lee lacocca. Three years ago, when Roger B. Smith, a 5-ft. 9-in., red-haired man with a squeaky voice, moved into the walnut-veneered chairman's office on the 14th floor of the General Motors building in Detroit, he was expected to...

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