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Purpose – This paper develops 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 US that narrative disclosures in press releases have been studied.