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CEO letters as legitimacy builders: coupling text to numbers

CEO letters as legitimacy builders: coupling text to numbers Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe and interpret the CEO letter in the annual reports of three multinational Swedish companies. This study focuses on the CEOs' comments on accounting principles and rules, on company decisions and actions, and on external events. Examination of CEO letters reveals how CEOs make themselves accountable to readers and establish their own and their companies' legitimacy. Design/methodology/approach – A strategic design was used to select the three companies;.the three criteria used in making the selection were company nationality, age, and stock market listing. A fourth criterion was that the company had been a nominee in the Stockholm Stock Exchange “Best Annual Report” contest. Based on a social constructivist approach, with inspiration from the field of discourse psychology, a discursive action model (DAM) is applied in this research. Findings – The analysis shows that the CEO letters at two of the three companies do not emphasize numbers and text. In the third company's CEO letters, the numbers are an important component and are balanced with text. It was found that one explanation of the CEO letter format is the CEO's wish to persuade readers of the company's legitimacy, excellence, and future survival. The CEO letter is intended to strengthen readers' confidence in the company. Originality/value – This paper provides insight into how CEOs use CEO letters in annual reports to craft a corporate image for readers. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting Emerald Publishing

CEO letters as legitimacy builders: coupling text to numbers

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2010 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1401-338X
DOI
10.1108/14013381011105975
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe and interpret the CEO letter in the annual reports of three multinational Swedish companies. This study focuses on the CEOs' comments on accounting principles and rules, on company decisions and actions, and on external events. Examination of CEO letters reveals how CEOs make themselves accountable to readers and establish their own and their companies' legitimacy. Design/methodology/approach – A strategic design was used to select the three companies;.the three criteria used in making the selection were company nationality, age, and stock market listing. A fourth criterion was that the company had been a nominee in the Stockholm Stock Exchange “Best Annual Report” contest. Based on a social constructivist approach, with inspiration from the field of discourse psychology, a discursive action model (DAM) is applied in this research. Findings – The analysis shows that the CEO letters at two of the three companies do not emphasize numbers and text. In the third company's CEO letters, the numbers are an important component and are balanced with text. It was found that one explanation of the CEO letter format is the CEO's wish to persuade readers of the company's legitimacy, excellence, and future survival. The CEO letter is intended to strengthen readers' confidence in the company. Originality/value – This paper provides insight into how CEOs use CEO letters in annual reports to craft a corporate image for readers.

Journal

Journal of Human Resource Costing & AccountingEmerald Publishing

Published: Nov 2, 2010

Keywords: Annual reports; Chief executives; Communication skills; Sweden; Corporate image

References