Articoli

Fr

Do letters to shareholders inform or mislead? Insights from insider trading

Empirical studies consistently provide evidence that investors perceive qualitative disclosures as useful because they have significant effects on analysts’ forecast
revisions and a firm’s share price. But these results leave unanswered the question
of whether managers write qualitative disclosures to inform or mislead investors.
Based on the signaling theory, we consider two actions by the same manager: one
(insider trading) is a costly signal whilst the other (qualitative disclosure) is the cheap
signal. We then verify whether they are coherent. We investigate the content and the
verbal tone of the Letter of Shareholders and the insider trading from its author before and after the letter’s date of release and find that the costly signal (the insider
trading) is not coherent with the cheap signal (the disclosure). This finding indicates
that managers do not use qualitative disclosures to offer incremental information but
that they might use them to mislead investors.

Fr

Graphical Reporting in Italian Annual Reports during the Financial Crisis: Impression Management or Incremental Information?

This paper investigates whether, before and during the global financial crisis, Italian firms have used financial key performance indicators graphs in the annual reports as impression management tools, to portray a more favourable picture of the firm’s performance than is warranted. This study shows that, during the financial crisis, firms have increased the number of graphs and decreased favourable distortions, although graphs continued to be designed inaccurately. The findings could reflect an increased public scrutiny on the firm’s performance, during the financial crisis. As a theoretical implication, this paper contributes to the existent financial reporting literature by showing that graphs are not necessarily used in line with an agency theory-based impression management, which is the dominant perspective to explain the graphs’ usage in the annual reports during periods of performance upturn. Moreover, it shows that the institutional context can affect voluntary disclosure practices at a firm-level. As a practical implication, this study suggests to annual reports’ readers not to necessarily consider managers as self-serving preparers in their graphical reporting strategies. The study also suggests accounting associations, audit firms and other regulatory bodies to create a set of guidelines for a correct graph’s use and design.

_

Keywords: Financial crisis, financial key performance indicators graphs, impression management, incremental information

Fr

Impression management and legitimacy strategies: The BP case

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 legitimacy building and legitimacy repairing phases (Suchman, 1995). We aim at understanding 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 investigated the impression management practices undertaken by the company both during the preparation of the rebranding operation, i.e. a situation in which the company 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 techniques 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.

_

Keywords: Impression management, disclosure tone, legitimacy building, legitimacy crisis