Studying corporate texts - critical discourse analysis of Finnish companies' discourses on growth in Russia

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Organization and Management
Organisaatiot ja johtaminen
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Objective of the study The objective of this study was to find out how Finnish companies justify and legitimize seeking growth in Russia, and how they then communicate their performance and future outlook therein. As a cross-disciplinary study, it aimed to understand and bring forward the underlying motives of using language for the ‘justification’ and ‘naturalization’ of the companies’ activities in Russia. To reach this purpose, the thesis combined methods and theories from accounting research, management and organization studies, international business studies, business communication and linguistics. Methodology In order to find the answer to the main research question, a qualitative critical discourse analysis methodology was applied on five CEO’s letters to shareholders (years 2007-2011) of five large Finnish companies that have established operations in Russia. In the spirit of critical discourse analysis the thesis does not see language merely as a conveyer of messages that reflect reality – instead, it views language as a force capable of (re-)creating social reality. The study was broken into two parts: first, an overall analysis was conducted on the textual material to see which discourses and other phenomena arise from it and, second, these specific discourses and other phenomena were then analyzed in more detail. Key findings The study found that top management, having the incentives to do so, frequently engages in self-serving behavior in their discourses in order to manage the perception the external audience has about their company. This behavior manifests itself in the management’s use of language in creating a ‘positive discursive reality’ surrounding the company and results from the pressure of shareholders’ growth expectations and a simultaneous failure to meet them. Thus, the management is pressurized into presenting their activities in Russia in a positive light and in conjunction with growth even though the ‘reality’ may differ from this ‘discursive reality’ communicated by the management. Keywords Discourse, critical discourse analysis, growth, Russia, performance
discourse analysis, diskurssianalyysi, growth, kasvu, Russia, Venäjä
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