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Published in: Journal of Business Ethics 4/2018

01-03-2016

Are there Language Markers of Hubris in CEO Letters to Shareholders?

Authors: Russell Craig, Joel Amernic

Published in: Journal of Business Ethics | Issue 4/2018

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Abstract

This paper explores whether DICTION text analysis software reveals distinctive language markers of a verbal tone of hubris in annual letters to shareholders signed by CEOs of major companies. We analyze 193 letters to shareholders, comprising about 368,000 words, focusing initially on 23 letters signed by CEOs who are alleged to be hubristic: Browne (BP), Goodwin (Royal Bank of Scotland), and Murdoch (News). Their language use is statistically significantly high in terms of the DICTION master variable, REALISM. Based on further analysis, we contend that language high in REALISM is not a distinctive marker of hubris but is likely to be a genre effect that is common in CEO letters to shareholders. We draw attention to the restricted capacity of DICTION to capture subtlety of language in CEO letters to shareholders.

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Appendix
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Footnotes
1
A wide range of published and non-published research using DICTION has been conducted in diverse fields, as referenced on www.​dictionsoftware.​com. A collection of 20 research studies in the corporate world has been published by Hart (2014).
 
2
See Appendix 1 for a description of master variables and other measures in DICTION. See Appendix 2 for the components of the REALISM master variable.
 
3
The effect of mechanisms for combatting corporate power should not be ignored. These include public relations campaigns by labor unions and environmental activists; and the moderating effect of ‘family beliefs and community culture’ (Miller 1997, p. 2).
 
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Metadata
Title
Are there Language Markers of Hubris in CEO Letters to Shareholders?
Authors
Russell Craig
Joel Amernic
Publication date
01-03-2016
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Published in
Journal of Business Ethics / Issue 4/2018
Print ISSN: 0167-4544
Electronic ISSN: 1573-0697
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-016-3100-3

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