In this paper we investigate whether, and how, corporate management strategically uses disclosure to manage the perceptions of different organizational audiences. In particular, we examine the interactions between the FIAT Group and three of its key organizational audiences—the local press, the international press, and the financial analysts, which are characterized by different levels of salience for the company. We focus on both how management reacts to the optimism level existing within each audience and how the narrative disclosure tone adopted by FIAT influences the ex-post optimism in the local and international press or in the financial analyst community. We investigate the disclosure of the FIAT Group over a 6-year period (2004–2009), during which 70 price-sensitive press releases were published. On the basis of 1,887 (331) news articles published in Italian (international) newspapers and 411 analyst reports, we report evidence of different strategic patterns in the interaction processes between FIAT and its audiences. Our findings also indicate some differences in the way FIAT is affected by, and in turn, affects the sentiment of each audience, thus highlighting that the salience of the stakeholder is an important driver of the adoption of impression management techniques. Taken together, our findings point to issues related to setting the “tone at the top” and potential ethical matters.
- AF Accountability Sustainability and Governance
- Impression management
- Narrative disclosure tone
- Organizational audiences
- Press releases