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Researching Discourse in Business Genres

Cases and Corpora


Edited By Sylvain Dieltjens, Paul Gillaerts, Priscilla Heynderickx, Geert Jacobs and Elizabeth de Groot

The contributions of this volume approach the genres of employee, CEO and organizational communication from different angles. They analyze how the author’s position in the company influences the construction of these genres, what content and linguistic style characterize them, and how the discourse of these genres is related to other resources. They look at linguistic and rhetorical strategies in a range of communicative settings: email correspondence among (male versus female) co-workers, collaborative writing of formats in the workplace, leadership messaging by the CEO, financial disclosures for (non-)financial audiences and expressions of the corporate philosophy. Two methodologies in particular are prominent in the genre-based chapters: corpus analyses and case studies.


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Section 2: Executive Discourse 71


Section 2: Executive Discourse BERNA HENDRIKS / MARGOT VAN MULKEN Dear Worker: A Corpus Analysis of Internal CEO Letters 1. Introduction In an age of increasing corporate accountability, an ongoing priority for many organisations is how to align corporate communicative behaviour with a variety of stakeholder expectations. For organisations, the diverse information requirements of different stakeholder groups present special challenges in communicating corporate practices, such as e.g. corporate responsibility programmes (Dawkins 2004), crisis communication policy (Benoit 1997), and ethical corporate behaviour (Morsing/Schultz 2006). For many organisations, corporate accountability to external stakeholders is primarily realised through their annual reports and the CEO’s letter. Both genres have received ample attention from studies with a genre-analytical perspective, which have been concerned with uncovering genre characteristics and genre typical discourse features (Skulstad 1996, 2006; Hyland 1998; Garzone 2004, 2005; Nickerson/ De Groot 2005; Rutherford 2005; De Groot et al. 2006). In this chapter we will focus on a genre that has received only scant attention in genre analytical research to date, the internal CEO letter, which is primarily addressed at internal stakeholders, the organisation’s workforce. These are the letters that are sent out periodically by CEOs of organisations to inform their workforce of corporate issues. The communicative purposes of these letters deserve to be analysed closely, as well as the rhetorical strategies that CEOs employ to achieve their goals. 74 Berna Hendriks / Margot van Mulken 2. Background Internal CEO letters are part of the wide range of media and channels that senior management...

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