Silence: A Strategy for Concealment and Manipulation in Corporate Narratives

Fatima Yusuf, Devendra Kodwani, Jane Frecknall-Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose
This paper introduces analysis of silence as an interdisciplinary approach to analysing narratives in corporate communication. The purpose of the research is to investigate whether and how politically connected companies use silence as a technique for restraining the flow of corporate governance information in corporate annual reports.
Research design
The narrative sections of 200 audited annual reports of 40 companies listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange from 2009–2013 were analysed. In order to allow for a comparison in disclosure practices, 20 of the companies in the sample were politically connected while the remaining 20 companies were politically non-connected. The analysis focused on the instances where the annual reports remained either completely silent or provided alternative information, not addressing the actual question/subject on which they were expected to provide information (empty speech).
Findings
A strong evidence of silence in the annual reports of politically connected companies was found. Driven by self-interest, politically connected members of the board use silence as a technique for avoiding disclosure, and provide superficial and inadequate information, covering only a limited range of issues.
Originality/value
This study is the first in corporate disclosure literature to examine the question of how politically connected companies use silence as a technique for restraining corporate disclosure. In doing so, it bridges the gap between literature in the fields of political science, linguistics and corporate disclosure.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Publication statusSubmitted - 9 Jun 2017

Keywords

  • Corporate disclosure
  • Silence
  • Corporate governance
  • Corporate narratives
  • Political connectedness

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