Communicating financials in the biotech industry: A strategic decision?

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    In Denmark, biotechnology and its physical product, the genetically modified organism, continues to be controversial, leading to widespread public scepticism. This paper explores the effect of such scepticism on part of the financial communication of one of Denmark's largest biotech companies, Novozymes.

    Research indicates that besides accommodating a legal demand for the disclosure of company financial details, the annual report, in particular the letter to the shareholders or the CEO's letter, serves the purpose of marketing the company to its constituents (Bowman 1984; Bülow-Møller 2003; Hyland 1998). This point is arguably of more importance to a biotech company which in its communication to the public may have to consider promoting an overly favourable and trustworthy image not only of its financial results, but also of the industry in which it is engaged, to ensure continuous financial support from constituents.

    In order to study and assess whether the controversy over biotechnology influences the communicative strategies applied by Novozymes, the paper takes its starting point in Hyland's theory on metadiscourse (1998, 2005), focusing on the interpersonal aspect of persuasive discourse. In this context, the rhetorical appeals of rationality, credibility and affect play an important role. Further, the New Rhetorical focus on audience, involving the concept of ‘presence', as well Conceptual Metaphor Theory's focus on metaphor's cognitive and functional qualities yields useful approaches for analysing how the company establishes a rapport with its constituents through the invocation of a common ground of values (Olbrechts-Tyteca and Perelman 1971; Lakoff and Johnson 1980/2003).


    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRhetorical Aspects of Discourses in Present-Day Society
    EditorsLotte Dam, Lise-Lotte Holmgreen, Jeanne Strunck
    Number of pages14
    Place of PublicationNewcastle
    PublisherCambridge Scholars Press
    Publication date2008
    ISBN (Print)9781847186591, 1-84718-659-9
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


    • biotechnology
    • financial communication
    • metaphor
    • discourse


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