Roger Bonham Smith was the Chairman and CEO of General Motors Corporation from 1981 to 1990, and is widely known as the main subject of Michael Moore's 1989 documentary film Roger & Me.
When Smith took over GM, it was reeling from its first annual loss since the early 1920s. Its reputation had been tarnished by lawsuits, persistent quality problems, bad labor relations, public protests over the installation of Chevrolet engines in Oldsmobiles and by a poorly designed diesel engine. GM was also losing market share to foreign automakers for the first time.
Deciding that GM needed to completely change its structure and culture in order to remain competitive into the future, Smith instituted several initiatives that included forming strategic joint ventures with Japanese and Korean automakers, launching the Saturn division, investing heavily in technological automation and robotics, and attempting to rid the company of its risk-averse bureaucracy. However, Smith's far-reaching goals proved too ambitious and overwhelming to be implemented effectively in the face of the company's resilient corporate culture and bureaucracy. Despite Smith's vision, he was unable to successfully integrate GM's major acquisitions, several of which also failed to tackle the root causes of GM's fundamental problems.