Communication is concerned with “messages, information, meaning, and symbolic activity” (Putnam and Cheney, 1985, p. 131) and affects every aspect of our daily lives. It produces our matrix of appreciation and perception as it determines how we make sense of the world around us and how we perceive ourselves and others. It is both constitutive and a product of social relationships. For any business organisation, communication thus plays a crucial role in managing relations with external parties via reporting on the outcomes of its activities. Corporate reporting is one of the primary means whereby managers communicate with investors and other stakeholders. Managers provide an account to investors and other stakeholders of the financial and other performance of their company in order to legitimize their actions. The course focuses in particular on rhetorical i.e. persuasive strategies that can be observed in corporate disclosures produced by the companies. The attention is also given to the regulatory aspect of financial disclosure requirements and rhetorical or discursive strategies that affect regulatory processes that determine what accounting information is reported on.
The course explores relevant theoretical frameworks as well as having a strong practical element, using real-world examples and illustrations from the corporate and accounting regulatory world. It addresses corporate reporting from the perspective of communication strategies used by managers and accounting regulators to legitimize their actions. It also discusses the often overlooked importance of cognitive biases in the communication processes.
The main objective of the course is to explore why communication within corporate reporting is worthy of careful scrutiny, not just in what social actors say, but how they say it and the legitimation strategies they use.
Outline of the syllabus
In addition to attending classes, students will be expected to give presentations on the relevant topics and read both academic & professional accounting articles. The reading list will be provided prior to the commencement of the course in December. The course assessment will be based on in class presentation (50%) and assignment (50%).
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