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Title: A cross-cultural and contrastive investigation of the corporate governance report and the chairman's letter of Chinese and U.S. companies
Authors: Lee, Wai-lam
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2018
Abstract: The rise of China economically and the growing clout of mainland Chinese companies on the global stage are today firmly recognised; however, research on Chinese annual report genres remains sparse compared to their Western and European counterparts. Within the annual report the chairman's letter has been the main target of investigation, but another core text—the corporate governance report— has yet to be explored. Prior studies of the chairman's letter have commonly found that the document deploys language resources to positively influence readers' perceptions of the company, a phenomenon often referred to as 'Impression Management'; however, whether the corporate governance report has the same communicative objective has not been established. The lacuna of research is surprising given the fact that corporate governance has remained of central interest within the academic and business domains due to the deluge of corporate bankruptcies and misconduct over the past two decades. The present study combines both corpus-based and corpus-driven methods to analyse the use of Hyland's (2005a) 'interactional' category of 'metadiscourse' markers. Interactional metadiscourse markers are linguistic devices that allow writers to project themselves into the ongoing discourse in order to indicate their stance or attitude towards the propositional material and their audience, and hence are crucial in persuasion. Two main strands of analyses are conducted. First, a cross-cultural analysis of metadiscourse use in Chinese and U.S. chairman's letters is undertaken in order to determine its use in the Chinese context in relation to the U.S., which is considered the global benchmark in financial markets. Second, a cross-genre analysis of metadiscourse use in the Chinese chairman's letter and the Chinese corporate governance report is conducted to obtain a deeper understanding of their communicative purposes in relation to each other. For the analyses, a specialised corpus of authentic texts was compiled consisting of one hundred Chinese chairman's letters, one hundred U.S. chairman's letters and one hundred Chinese corporate governance reports. The findings illustrate divergent patterns in the use of metadiscursive resources in both the cross-cultural and cross-genre analyses. The cross-cultural analyses reveal that the U.S. texts use significantly more metadiscourse markers than the Chinese, demonstrating a greater effort in showing their stance towards the proposition and the audience. Meanwhile, the cross-genre analyses show that in comparison to the Chinese chairman's letter, the use of metadiscursive devices is minimal in the Chinese corporate governance report which suggests that the communicative objectives of the two discourses may diverge. It appears that while the chairman's letter aims to influence and persuade, the corporate governance report is largely informational. The study provides justification for more metadiscourse research into business texts. The findings can help users and preparers of annual reports to gain an appreciation of the role of metadiscourse in corporate texts and can also be applied in university ESP courses and professional training.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Discourse analysis
Communication in organizations -- Cross-cultural studies
Business communication -- Cross-cultural studies
Pages: xiv, 353 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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