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Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC (Attribution-NonCommercial)Logforum. 2019. 15(1), article 9, 119-128; DOI: https://doi.org/10.17270/J.LOG.2019.320


Mihaela Stratulat

Anglo-American University, Prague, Czech Republic


Background: With annual and integrated reporting becoming a standard practice, companies are disclosing more of their non-financial information to the public. As these corporate narratives are not regulated, they can become quite lengthy, thus, leaving room for impression management. Companies tend to present their performance in an overly positive way, resorting to various impression management strategies, especially pertaining to negative aspects. Such strategies are expected to be even more prevalent in companies faced with serious crisis events that can significantly tarnish their reputation. Thus, the purpose of this research is to analyse impression management techniques undertaken by companies in distress.

Methods: Building on existing research, a content analysis of the Volkswagen company’s reports was conducted, selected as representative for analysed situation. The aim was to analyse the reporting before the emission scandal happened (2014), to see how the company positioned itself, and after the scandal (2015, 2016), to observe any changes in the annual reporting and analyse the company’s communication about the scandal.

Results: The strong sustainability positioning Volkswagen has been building over the years was seriously tarnished by the emissions scandal, suggesting a high level of threat to the company’s reputation. Thus, Volkswagen resorted to various impression management, the main ones being: competence enhancement, ingratiation, exemplification, apology, and redefinition of the event.

Conclusion: The impression management tactics employed by a company in distress are, to some extent, contingent on its positioning before the crisis event. Thus, a previously strong positioning on sustainability led Volkswagen to employ image salvaging tactics in an attempt to manage the public’s impressions. This research sheds light on the disclosure strategies of companies in distress and contributes to existing studies of various impression management techniques used by such organizations. Potential avenues for future research could be extending the analysed corporate narratives, including press releases and other communication of the company, as well as evaluating the media’s response and the public’s reaction to the impression management strategies.

Keywords: corporate narrative, crisis management, disclosure strategies, impression management
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For citation:

MLA Stratulat, Mihaela. "Impression management during a crisis event." Logforum 15.1 (2019): 9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.17270/J.LOG.2019.320
APA Mihaela Stratulat (2019). Impression management during a crisis event. Logforum 15 (1), 9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.17270/J.LOG.2019.320
ISO 690 STRATULAT, Mihaela. Impression management during a crisis event. Logforum, 2019, 15.1: 9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.17270/J.LOG.2019.320