Impression management in the president’s letter: The case study of EDP

Conference proceedings article


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Author list: Martins, A., Gomes, D., & Oliveira, L.
Publication year: 2016
Languages: English-Great Britain (EN-GB)


The paper aims to examine impression management strategies in the Presidents’ letter of the largest Portuguese company of the electric sector in a context of reprivatisation and liberalization of the market. The study is based on the view that this narrative section can be crucial to show how presidents interpret important external challenges and to manage the impressions that stakeholders have of the company. This paper takes the form of a longitudinal single case study of the EDP in the period from 1995 to 2010. We use a qualitative and interpretative approach to analyze the presidents’ letter in the annual reports. The analysis focuses on examining both the manifest and latent content of the evidence. The data analysis draws on Suchman’s (1995) framework and two impression management typologies. The analysis emphasizes the importance of the president’s letter as a resource in the legitimacy management. The study shows a pronounced use of impression management strategies in an attempt to gain, maintain or repair the organizational legitimacy. The evidence is in accordance with the self-laudatory nature of the voluntary organizational communication. The findings suggest that the Presidents’ letter deserve a more in-depth analysis and a greater scrutiny from auditors. This research is also useful to regulators and users of annual reports. The paper contributes to the literature on the discretionary content of the presidents’ letter in the annual report in a non-Anglo-American context.


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