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Financial Reporting. Quarterly Journal of Financial Communication

Number: 4
Year: 2012
Pages: 133
Franco Angeli Editor Link: Members:
  • Alberto Quagli - Università di Genova
  • Belinda Crawford Camiciottoli - Università di Pisa, Dipartimento di Anglistica, Via Santa Maria, 67, Pisa
  • David Alexander - The Birmingham Business School
  • Gerrit Brösel - Head of Chair of Business Administration, FernUniversität in Hagen, Profilstraße 8, 58093 Hagen, Germany
  • Gerrit Broßsel - Head of Chair of Business Administration,, Financial Reporting and Auditing, FernUniversitat in Hagen, Profilstraße 8, 58093 Hagen, Germany
  • Giovanna Michelon - Università di Padova
  • Marco Venuti - Lecturer in Risk and Accounting, “Roma Tre” University Faculty of Economics, Via Silvio D’Amico, 77, 00145 Rome, Italy
  • Mario Zimmermann - Ilmenau University of Technology, Helmholtzplatz 3, 98693 Ilmenau, Germany
  • Martin Toll - Corresponding author, Chair of Business Administration, Financial Reporting and Auditing, FernUniversität in Hagen, Profilstraße 8, 58093 Hagen, Germany
  • Michela Cordazzo - Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, School of Economics and Management
  • Raffaele Fiume -
  • Roberto Di Pietra - University of Siena
  • Stefano Azzali - University of Parma (Italy)
Impression management and legitimacy strategies: The BP case
Submitted on: 01-10-2011
Approved on: 01-05-2012
Typology: Article
Pages: 35-64
Keywords: impression management, disclosure tone, legitimacy building, legitimacy crisis
Authors:
Abstract: The aim of this paper is to study if and how impression management varies during different phases of the legitimation process, in particular during the legiti- macy building and legitimacy repairing phases (Suchman, 1995). We aim at under- standing whether and how the disclosure tone adopted by a company in the two different moments is diverse and thus functional to the intrinsic objective of the each phase. The empirical analysis focuses on the case of British Petroleum Plc. We investi- gated the impression management practices undertaken by the company both dur- ing the preparation of the rebranding operation, i.e. a situation in which the compa- ny is trying to build legitimacy; and during the happenings of two legitimacy crises, like the explosion of the refinery in Texas City and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The evidence appears in line with the theoretical prediction of legitimacy theory. Results show that while the company tends to privilege image enhancement tech- niques during the legitimacy-building phase, it uses more obfuscation techniques when managing a legitimacy-repairing process. Moreover, the analysis suggests that the company makes more extensive use of impression management techniques in the disclosures addressed to shareholders, investors and other market operators than in the disclosures addressed to the wide range of other stakeholders.