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The chairman's statement and corporate financial performance

Smith, M. and Taffler, R. (1992) The chairman's statement and corporate financial performance. Accounting & Finance, 32 (2). pp. 75-90.

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Agency theory and signalling theory both suggest that firms are motivated to disclose excellence of financial performance in an unambiguous manner. We might expect, therefore, that good financial performance is associated with a clear and readable Chairman's narrative and poor performance with an obscure or misleading message. Extant work linking corporate performance with clarity of executive narrative fails to distinguish sample cases by industry or financial status. This paper seeks to overcome the consequences of such deficiencies explicitly, by conducting a systematic analysis of the relationship between narrative complexity and alternative measures of financial performance, for a matched sample of failed/non‐failed companies across common industries. This study employs separate measures of the readability and the understandability of the chairman's narrative and finds them to be significantly related to overall financial performance and individual measures of performance, most notably liquidity. Poor readability is strongly associated with poor financial performance and ease of readability with relative financial success. The implication is that firms actively signal good news while obscuring, perhaps deliberately, messages which convey bad news.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Business
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Inc.
Copyright: © 1992 Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand
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