Good and Evil in the Chairmen's ‘Boiler Plate’: An Analysis of Corporate Visions of the 1970s

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Abstract

Boiler plates, the chairman's message that begins each corporation's annual report, provide a reflection of the self-image of American big business. This paper uses the method of dramatism for discovering and interpreting corporate dramas inherent in the language of the boiler plates of the Dow Jones Industrials. The U.S. economy of the 1970s provides the dramatic setting, with the company as hero, the government as villain and public interest groups as minor players. The overriding corporate drama can be traced to the archetypal drama of pure competition. Understanding corporate dramas allows us to see how companies create a shared rhetorical vision to unify their shareholders with management and employees, label actions as good or evil, and influence the public by putting forward a positive corporate self-image.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-592
Number of pages22
JournalOrganization Studies
Volume14
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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