Rhetorical Impression Management in the Letter to Shareholders and Institutional Setting: A Metadiscourse Perspective.

Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Forthcoming

52 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2016

See all articles by Walter Aerts

Walter Aerts

University of Antwerp

Beibei Yan

Shanghai University - SHU-UTS SILC Business School

Date Written: January 7, 2016

Abstract

Using composite style measures of the letter to shareholders, we elaborate dominant rhetorical profiles and qualify them from an impression management perspective. In addition, we examine how institutional differences affect rhetorical profiles by comparing intensity and contingencies of rhetorical profiles of UK and US companies. We document three prominent rhetorical profiles: (1) an emphatic acclaiming stance, (2) a cautious plausibility-based framing position, and (3) a logic-based rationalizing orientation. The profiles represent distinct self-presentational logics and have different readability effects. Rhetorical impression management is stronger in the US companies, but higher expected scrutiny in the US institutional environment affects sensitivity of rhetorical postures to message credibility and litigation risk, attenuating the acclaiming and rationalizing profile, while marginally increasing the less litigation-sensitive defensive framing style in US letters.

Keywords: Rhetorical impression management, Linguistic style, Letter to shareholders, Institutional environment, Litigation risk, Metadiscourse

JEL Classification: M10 M40

Suggested Citation

Aerts, Walter and Yan, Beibei, Rhetorical Impression Management in the Letter to Shareholders and Institutional Setting: A Metadiscourse Perspective. (January 7, 2016). Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2828609

Walter Aerts (Contact Author)

University of Antwerp ( email )

Prinsstraat 13
Antwerpen, B-2000
Belgium
003232654110 (Phone)
003232654064 (Fax)

Beibei Yan

Shanghai University - SHU-UTS SILC Business School ( email )

China

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