Corporate dreams – Appropriate aspirations and the building of trust in annual reports
Keywords:annual report, genre, goodwill, dreams, narratives, legitimacy, trust
This paper argues that the corporate annual report is not only a document comprising retrospective accounts of financial position and performance, but also a text that points to the future by means of presenting dreams, aspirations and fantasies. However, these dreams are not to be seen as irrational deviations from the rationalistically oriented discourse of accounting. Quite to the contrary, the three corporate dreams identified in this study – the colonial dream, the evolutionary dream and the efficiency dream – are part of the ongoing self-narration of the company, in which it tries to display an allegiance to a set of appropriate aspirations that are considered legitimate in contemporary global capitalism. Drawing upon ideas from narrative theory, annual reports from 2005 to 2010 collected from NASDAQ OMX Stockholm have been analyzed with the purpose of understanding how corporate dreams are used in financial communication. These corporate dreams contribute, the paper argues, to the construction of legitimacy and trust.
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