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Article
Publication date: 29 March 2011

Doris M. Merkl‐Davies, Niamh M. Brennan and Stuart J. McLeay

Prior accounting research views impression management predominantly though the lens of economics. Drawing on social psychology research, this paper seeks to provide a…

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9473

Abstract

Purpose

Prior accounting research views impression management predominantly though the lens of economics. Drawing on social psychology research, this paper seeks to provide a complementary perspective on corporate annual narrative reporting as characterised by conditions of “ex post accountability”. These give rise to impression management resulting from the managerial anticipation of the feedback effects of information and/or to managerial sense‐making by means of the retrospective framing of organisational outcomes.

Design/methodology/approach

A content analysis approach pioneered by psychology research is used, which is based on the psychological dimension of word use, to investigate the chairmen's statements of 93 UK listed companies.

Findings

Results suggest that firms do not use chairmen's statements to create an impression at variance with an overall reading of the annual report. It was found that negative organisational outcomes prompt managers to engage in retrospective sense‐making, rather than to present a public image of organisational performance inconsistent with the view internally held by management (self‐presentational dissimulation). Further, managers of large firms use chairmen's statements to portray an accurate (i.e. consistent with an overall reading of the annual report), albeit favourable, image of the firm and of organisational outcomes (i.e. impression management by means of enhancement).

Originality/value

The approach makes it possible to investigate three complementary scenarios of managerial corporate annual reporting behaviour: self‐presentational dissimulation, impression management by means of enhancement, and retrospective sense‐making.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 24 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 19 June 2009

Niamh M. Brennan, Encarna Guillamon‐Saorin and Aileen Pierce

This paper aims to develop a holistic measure for analysing impression management and for detecting bias introduced into corporate narratives as a result of impression management.

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10866

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to develop a holistic measure for analysing impression management and for detecting bias introduced into corporate narratives as a result of impression management.

Design/methodology/approach

Prior research on the seven impression management methods in the literature is summarised. Four of the less‐researched methods are described in detail, and are illustrated with examples from UK annual results' press releases (ARPRs). A method of computing a holistic composite impression management score based on these four impression management methods is developed, based on both quantitative and qualitative data in corporate narrative disclosures. An impression management bias score is devised to capture the extent to which impression management introduces bias into corporate narratives. An example of the application of the composite impression management score and impression management bias score methodology is provided.

Findings

While not amounting to systematic evidence, the 21 illustrative examples suggest that impression management is pervasive in corporate financial communications using multiple impression management methods, such that positive information is exaggerated, while negative information is either ignored or is underplayed.

Originality/value

Four impression management methods are described in detail, illustrated by 21 examples. These four methods are examined together. New impression management methods are studied in this paper for the first time. This paper extends prior impression management measures in two ways. First, a composite impression management score based on four impression management techniques is articulated. Second, the composite impression management score methodology is extended to capture a measure for bias, in the form of an impression management bias score. This is the first time outside the USA that narrative disclosures in press releases have been studied.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 22 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 26 July 2013

Ruth Segev, Aviv Shoham and Ayalla Ruvio

Previous research on impression management explored motives, the use of impression management tactics and the influence of personality characteristics on the tendency to…

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2160

Abstract

Purpose

Previous research on impression management explored motives, the use of impression management tactics and the influence of personality characteristics on the tendency to engage in impression management. The purposes of this research are to examine gift‐giving behavior among adolescents based on the building blocks of impression management theory, the ways that personality characteristics motivate gift‐givers to engage in active and defensive impression management and how the use of impression management tactics (i.e. similarity‐conformity and target‐enhancement) are reflected in their gift‐giving behavior.

Design/methodology/approach

A convenience sample of 141 adolescences was used in a quantitative study. Self‐report questionnaires were distributed to adolescents of different ages (13‐16), with students from diverse social strata. Students were asked to recall a recent peer gift‐giving experience and to refer to it when answering the questions which covered motives for gift‐giving, personality characteristics, and the characteristics of the gift.

Findings

The authors' study shows that personality characteristics such as public self‐consciousness, self‐monitoring, and self‐esteem are positively related with gift‐giving motives. Additionally, gift‐giving motives are positively related with the use of similarity‐conformity and target‐enhancement tactics. Finally, the use of impression management tactics reflects adolescents' special characteristics, such as their tendency towards conformism, important role of peers in their lives, and their high need to protect and nurture these social resources.

Originality/value

This research explored the instrumental role of gift‐giving among adolescents and contributes to the existing literatures on gift‐giving, impression management, and adolescents' consumer behavior.

Details

Journal of Consumer Marketing, vol. 30 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0736-3761

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Article
Publication date: 26 October 2018

Dara G. Schniederjans, Stephen A. Atlas and Christopher M. Starkey

As organizations increasingly engage with consumers over mobile devices, there is a growing need to understand how consumers react to impression management over platforms…

Abstract

Purpose

As organizations increasingly engage with consumers over mobile devices, there is a growing need to understand how consumers react to impression management over platforms with limited textual content. The purpose of this paper is to empirically assess how different impression management tactics can be used in mobile media to enhance consumer perception-attitude-intentions toward a corporate brand.

Design/methodology/approach

We surveyed 670 consumers and estimate structural equation models and repeated-measures ANOVAs to determine how short passages employing alternate impression management tactics influence consumers’ perceptions, attitudes and purchase intentions.

Findings

Results reveal that each impressions management tactic (i.e. ingratiation, intimidation, organizational promotion, supplication and exemplification) influences consumer perceptions, attitudes and intentions. The authors compare differences in how the impressions management tactics influence each stage of the perception-attitude-intentions model and find evidence that initial differences in perceptions favoring ingratiation and exemplification appeals become magnified for purchase intentions.

Research limitations/implications

Recent calls for research focus on an understanding of how consumers process information on reduced-content platforms of small-screened mobile devices. These results provide empirical evidence of the use of impression management and the difference between five impression management tactics on enhancing consumer perception-attitude-intentions model.

Practical implications

The results of this study will provide marketers with insights to optimize communications and corporate brands with consumers over mobile media.

Originality/value

This paper adds to the nascent yet vital literature on mobile marketing by focusing on how impression management tactics influence perceptions, attitudes and intentions through the short message characteristic of mobile platforms. The authors develop a framework for how corporate brand management can strategically use impressions management tactics in this novel domain.

Details

Journal of Product & Brand Management, vol. 27 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1061-0421

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Article
Publication date: 2 August 2019

Tahira M. Probst, Lixin Jiang and Sergio Andrés López Bohle

The purpose of this paper is to test competing models of the relationship between job insecurity and two forms of impression management (self- and supervisor-focused) on…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to test competing models of the relationship between job insecurity and two forms of impression management (self- and supervisor-focused) on job performance. Specifically, does job insecurity lead to greater subsequent impression management; or, does preventative use of impression management subsequently lead to reductions in job insecurity? Additionally, how do these both relate to in-role performance?

Design/methodology/approach

Using two-wave survey data collected from 184 working adults in the USA and the two-step approach recommended by Cole and Maxwell (2003) and Taris and Kompier (2006), the authors tested cross-lagged relationship between job insecurity and both forms of impression management by comparing four different models: a stability model, a normal causation model (with cross-lagged paths from T1 job insecurity to T2 impression management), a reversed causation model (with cross-lagged paths from T1 impression management to T2 job insecurity) and a reciprocal causation model (with all cross-lagged paths described in the normal and reversed causation model).

Findings

Results were supportive of the reversed causation model which indicated that greater use of supervisor-focused impression management at Time 1 predicted lower levels of job insecurity at Time 2 (after controlling for prior levels of job insecurity); moreover, job insecurity at Time 1 was then significantly associated with more positive in-role behaviors at Time 2. Moreover, the test of the indirect effect between T1 impression management and T2 performance was significant.

Originality/value

These results suggest that impression management clearly plays an important role in understanding the relationship between job insecurity and job performance. However, employees appear to utilize impression management as a means of pre-emptively enhancing their job security, rather than as a tool to reactively cope with perceived job insecurity.

Details

Career Development International, vol. 25 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1362-0436

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Article
Publication date: 4 May 2012

Abigail Spong and Caroline Kamau

Many people moving into a new culture for work or study do so without prior cross‐cultural training, yet successful cultural adaptation has important ramifications. The…

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1049

Abstract

Purpose

Many people moving into a new culture for work or study do so without prior cross‐cultural training, yet successful cultural adaptation has important ramifications. The purpose of this paper is to focus on cross‐cultural impression management as an element of cultural adaptation. Does cultural adaptation begin by paying strong attention to nonverbal cues in a host culture? How is that attention converted into knowledge, and how do people use such knowledge management during impression management within the new culture?

Design/methodology/approach

The method was qualitative. In total, ten international students at an English university were recruited. All originated outside the European Union and each took part in a one‐hour structured interview. The transcripts were analysed through thematic analysis.

Findings

International students adopted cross‐cultural impression management strategies in order to enhance successful adaptation to the new host culture. Students consciously processed knowledge about nonverbal behaviour norms through everyday interactions. They audited knowledge deficits by detecting differences between the host norms and their home culture's norms. The motives for this included desiring to maximise rewards from situations.

Research limitations/implications

The findings imply that being in a new culture makes people “high self monitors”. They are more aware than usual about their own and others' nonverbal behaviours. The findings tell us about how cultural adaptation begins.

Originality/value

This appears to be the first in‐depth qualitative research examining cross‐cultural impression management by international students and deducing implications for expatriates.

Details

Journal of International Education in Business, vol. 5 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-469X

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Article
Publication date: 9 October 2017

Oluremi Bolanle Ayoko, Andrew A. Ang and Ken Parry

Little research has focused on the impact of organizational crisis on their internal stakeholders – the employees. This paper aims to fill this void by examining the…

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3884

Abstract

Purpose

Little research has focused on the impact of organizational crisis on their internal stakeholders – the employees. This paper aims to fill this void by examining the impression management strategies used by senior managers in managing their employees during organizational crisis and the impact of these strategies on employees.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors collected qualitative data from three organizations and used multiple analytical lenses (such as thematic, content and trope) to explore patterns in senior managers’ management of employees during crisis.

Findings

Emerging patterns in the data revealed that the emotional state and reactions of employees (individual and collective) during crisis include anger, fear, shame, depression and shock. Additionally, data revealed two major contradictions (tensions) in managing employees during crisis: maintaining and compromising standard and managers’ wants versus employees’ desire in the way organization crisis is managed. Based on these preliminary findings and using affective event theory and the theory of collective emotions as a frame, the authors built a conceptual model that depicts the relationship between organizational crisis, impression management and emotion-driven employee attitudes and behaviors.

Research limitations/implications

A major limitation in the current research is that authors’ data are largely composed of text (e.g. from newspaper and websites). Nevertheless, the textual data were based on actual interviews with stakeholders and victims and have more than compensated for the limitation. Theoretically, by examining the emotional states and reactions of internal (rather than external) stakeholders to organizational crisis, the authors extend the literature in the area of organizational crisis and crisis management, while the testable propositions in this conceptual model have a potential to open up new pathways for studying organizational crisis. Practically, it is imperative for managers to have skills to identify and manage key employees’ emotional states and reactions to crisis. Managers should align their words and actions during crisis management to increase employees trust. Also pre-crisis planning should include specific guidelines on how to identify and manage employees’ individual and collective emotions during crisis.

Practical implications

The results show that inappropriate impression management strategies may worsen employees’ emotional states and reactions (individual and collective) during crisis; therefore, it is imperative for managers to have skills in identifying key employees’ emotional states and reactions to crisis and the impression management strategies appropriate in managing them. A training that sharpens managers’ emotional intelligence will be helpful in managing the emotions of employees (individual and collective) during crisis. Also, pre-crisis planning should include specific guidelines on how to identify and manage employees’ individual and collective emotions during crisis, while senior managers’ words and actions during crisis need to be synchronized to engender employees’ trust.

Originality/value

This study demonstrates that beyond emotions of employees during crisis, there are contradictions and tensions in the senior manager’s management of their employees during crisis. Also, outcomes of a quantitative test of the conceptual model developed from the current study should improve the generalizability of the results and open up new pathways for future research in this area.

Details

International Journal of Conflict Management, vol. 28 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1044-4068

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Article
Publication date: 8 August 2018

Ricardo Lopes Cardoso, Rodrigo de Oliveira Leite and André Carlos Busanelli de Aquino

The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether analysts’ personal cognitive traits mitigate the efficacy of graphical impression management.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether analysts’ personal cognitive traits mitigate the efficacy of graphical impression management.

Design/methodology/approach

Three experiments are conducted wherein 525 professional accountants working as financial analysts rate a hypothetical company’s performance graph depicting its net income trend. The manipulation is the presence (absence) of impression management techniques. Hypotheses test whether different techniques are effective and whether analysts’ cognitive reflection ability mitigates manipulation efficacy.

Findings

Presentation enhancement is effective only with impulsive analysts, showing the weakness of this technique through the use of colors. Measurement distortion and selectivity techniques are effective for reflective and impulsive analysts; however, reflective analysts are more critical about graphs prepared via selectivity that emphasize profit recovery following crises.

Research limitations/implications

Each impression management technique is investigated in isolation and in controlled conditions. Further research could consider how personal cognitive traits impact the efficacy of combined techniques and whether imbedding manipulated graphs with other information mitigates impression management efficacy.

Practical implications

Research on impression management is mostly “task-oriented;” few “people-oriented” studies focus on decision making by those using financial reports. Users’ cognitive reflection ability is shown to undermine the efficacy of some impression management techniques.

Social implications

Financial analysts, auditors and regulators could develop mechanisms to avoid pervasive usage of (or enhance skepticism regarding) techniques not mitigated by users’ reflectiveness.

Originality/value

Evidence from financial analysts with an accounting background provides insights on individual characteristics’ influence on graphical impression management efficacy.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 31 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 15 June 2018

Victoria C. Edgar, Matthias Beck and Niamh M. Brennan

The UK private finance initiative (PFI) public policy is heavily criticised. PFI contracts are highly profitable leading to incentives for PFI private-sector companies to…

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1738

Abstract

Purpose

The UK private finance initiative (PFI) public policy is heavily criticised. PFI contracts are highly profitable leading to incentives for PFI private-sector companies to support PFI public policy. This contested nature of PFIs requires legitimation by PFI private-sector companies, by means of impression management, in terms of the attention to and framing of PFI in PFI private-sector company annual reports. The paper aims to discuss this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

PFI-related annual report narratives of three UK PFI private-sector companies, over seven years and across two periods of significant change in the development of the PFI public policy, are analysed using manual content analysis.

Findings

Results suggest that PFI private-sector companies use impression management to legitimise during periods of uncertainty for PFI public policy, to alleviate concerns, to provide credibility for the policy and to legitimise the private sector’s own involvement in PFI.

Research limitations/implications

While based on a sizeable database, the research is limited to the study of three PFI private-sector companies.

Originality/value

The portrayal of public policy in annual report narratives has not been subject to prior research. The research demonstrates how managers of PFI private-sector companies present PFI narratives in support of public policy direction that, in turn, benefits PFI private-sector companies.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 31 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 7 November 2019

Zhengyong Zhang and Hong Chen

Because corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports in China are surging in quantity but are low in quality, impression management in CSR reports has become a hot…

Abstract

Purpose

Because corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports in China are surging in quantity but are low in quality, impression management in CSR reports has become a hot research topic in recent years. This paper aims to research whether and how media coverage affects CSR report impression management and whether CSR report disclosure attributes have different regulating effects.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on the effective supervision hypothesis and the market pressure hypothesis, this study uses Heckman’s two-stage regression model to examine the effect of media coverage on CSR report impression management from the perspective of managers’ self-interest.

Findings

The results support the market pressure hypothesis, which suggest that firms with higher levels of media coverage are more likely to engage in CSR report impression management, and this effect is especially significant in firms with a higher proportion of institutional investor shareholding and more analysts tracking. Further cross-sectional group studies show that market pressure is only present in firms whose CSR reports are subject to mandatory disclosure without third-party assurance or policy-oriented media attention.

Research limitations/implications

This paper does not consider the attention of other forms of media. The findings of this paper has policy implications for a better understanding of the motivation underlying impression management in CSR reports, encouraging voluntary disclosure and assurance to relieve the market pressure from media coverage.

Practical implications

From the perspective impression management of social responsibility report, further understanding the governance role of media coverage. A large number of previous literatures have shown that media coverage has a good supervisory role, but these studies mainly focus on the financial level of enterprises. Media coverage seems to be a “double-edged sword”. While it plays a supervisory role and inhibits earnings management or irregularities at the financial level, it also brings enormous market pressure to the enterprises, which is reflected in the increase of impression management behavior of social responsibility reports at the non-financial level, and this pressure is probably caused by the financial level.

Social implications

Voluntary disclosure and verification of social responsibility reports, as an important mechanism to improve the quality of social responsibility reports, supports the correctness, scientificity and rationality of the current policies of the SFC and the exchange on encouraging voluntary disclosure and verification. In the future, changing regulatory thinking, encouraging voluntary disclosure of social responsibility reports and introducing more independent and authoritative certification agencies should be the direction and focus of policy-making, so that social responsibility reports can play a better role in helping investors make decisions.

Originality/value

From the perspective of impression management of CSR reports, this paper provides evidence regarding the effect of media coverage and its transmission mechanisms. This paper uses China's unique institutional environments to study the impact of different types of media coverage on impression management in CSR reports in emerging market economy. Different from the institutional environment of developed countries such as the USA, mandatory disclosure and voluntary disclosure coexist in CSR reporting in China. The authors provide critical evidence to show that third-party assurance and voluntary disclosure improves the quality of CSR reports.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 11 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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