Credibility-boosting devices in corporate annual reports

Author: Vogel, Radek
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2019, vol. 45, iss. 2, pp. [217]-236
Extent
[217]-236
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
Language
English
Abstract(s)
Apart from their informative, representative, textual and interpersonal functions, annual reports of companies and institutions aim at enhancing the organisations' image and credibility. According to the theory of communicative action formulated by Habermas (1984), credibility is based on meeting four validity claims, namely truth, sincerity, appropriateness and understandability. Credibility as such can be boosted by presenting or proving two major components, expertise and trust. The paper analyses lexis of company annual reports, with a focus on a sub-genre referred to here as letters from executives (also Letter from a CEO, Chairman's statement, Chair's Message, Letter to Shareholders, etc.). These short texts attempt to persuade target readers about a competent management, strong visions, positive current situation and optimistic outlook of the business. Combining the more subjective trustworthiness and a more objectively based provision of credentials and achievements in order to prove expertise, these letters in annual reports aim to persuade readers rather implicitly than explicitly, by establishing contact through direct address, personal endorsement and involvement. The research was carried out on "executive letters" in the business documents subcorpus of the Corpus of English and Czech Specialised Discourses (CECSD 2017), with special emphasis on the selected verbs, nouns and adjectives, and their persuasive potential. It claims that positive and negative connotations of the lexis chosen by persuaders belong to the principal persuasive strategies employed in this genre of specialised discourse.
Note
  • This article is an output of the grant project 17-16195S "Persuasion across Czech and English Specialised Discourses", which is supported by the Czech Science Foundation (GAČR).
Document
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