COLLISION COURSE: Inside the Battle for General Motors by Micheline Maynard

COLLISION COURSE: Inside the Battle for General Motors

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A cautionary account of the internecine battles that convulsed General Motors Corp. during the early 1990s when the Motown colossus was on a fast track to fiscal and operational calamity. Drawing mainly on contacts she has made as Detroit bureau chief for USA Today, Maynard offers a brisk series of set pieces detailing how the hidebound fiefdoms that comprised GM stalled the parent organization's best efforts to respond to the decline of its once commanding market share. As a tide of red ink threatened to engulf GM, an unwontedly activist board ousted CEO Robert Stempel (the unfortunate engineer who inherited Roger Smith's unholy mess). Directors promptly named Jack Smith to succeed him in the fall of 1992. An unheralded but ultracompetent executive with international experience, Smith put GM on the road to recovery with plant closings and allied consolidations. Nonetheless, his tenure as the company's designated savior could accurately be described as turbulent. On his watch, for example, the company has engaged in distracting public disputes with NBC-TV (which was obliged to retract a staged story impugning the safety of certain GM vehicles) and a high-profile purchasing whiz who was lured away by Volkswagen amidst charges that he had betrayed corporate confidences. Nor has Smith completely tamed either the fractious unions or in-house bureaucracies that still inflate the vast amounts of money and time required to develop new product lines that could ensure GM's survival in the next century. While the author's anecdotal narrative leaves little doubt that the Smith regime's makeover is very much a work in progress, she strongly suggests the man in the driver's seat could eventually claim a place at the table alongside corporate America's greatest leaders. An absorbing and informative status report on an enterprise whose fate is almost everyone's business.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Carol