Variation in Letters to Shareholders from British, Polish and Spanish Companies - A Comparative Study

Hanna Skorczynska (1), Rosa Giménez-Moreno (2)
(1) Departamento de Lingüística Aplicada Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Spain,
(2) Department of English and German Studies at the Universitat de València, Spain


This study analyzes the moves and the communicative intentions in the letters to shareholders from selected British, Polish and Spanish companies, in order to provide data on variations in intercultural business communication within Europe, a field of research in need of growth. A qualitative approach was used to examine a corpus of letters from energy companies based in these three countries. The variations identified in the use of the moves, and the related salient communicative intentions are discussed with regard to possible cultural influences and the company’s current situation. The results confirm the view that companies tend to align with the values of the societal and cultural environmnet in which they are nested by means of communicative strategies adjusted to this end.

Full text article

Generated from XML file


Amernic, J. H. & Craig R. J. (2007). Guidelines for CEO-speak: editing the language of corporate leadership. Strategy & Leadership, 35(3), 25-31. DOI:

Bargiela-Chiappini, F. & Nickerson, C. (2002). Business discourse: Old debates, new horizons. IRAL 40(4), 273-286. DOI:

Bhatia, V. (1993). Analysing genre: Language in use in professional settings. London: Longman.

Brannen, M. Y. & Salk, J. E. (2000). Partnering across borders: Negotiating organizational culture in a German-Japanese joint venture. Human Relations, 53(4), 451-487. DOI:

Candlin, C. & Gotti, M. (Eds.). (2007). Intercultural aspects of specialized communication. Berlin: Peter Lang.

Conaway, R. N. & Wardrope, W. J. (2010). Do their words really matter? Thematic analysis of U.S. and Latin American CEO letters. Journal of Business Communication, 47(2), 141-168. DOI:

de Groot, E. B., Korzilius, H., Nickerson, C. & Gerritsen, M. (2006). A corpus analysis of text themes and photographic themes in managerial forwards of Dutch-English and British annual general reports. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 49(3), 217-235. DOI:

Duranti, A. (2003). The voice of the audience in contemporary American political discouse. In J. E. Alatis & D. Tannen (Eds.) Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguisticts, 2001 (pp. 114-134).

Fiol, M. C. (1995). Corporate communications: comparing executives’ private and public statements. Academy of Management Journal, 38(2), 522-536. DOI:

Garzone, G. (2004). Annual company reports and CEO’s letters: Discoursal features and cultural markedness. In C. Candlin & M. Gotti (Eds.), Intercultural Aspects of Specialized Discourse (pp. 311-341). Bern: Peter Lang.

Garzone, G. (2008). Letters to shareholders and Chairman’s statements: Textual variability and generic integrity. In P. Gillaerts & M. Gotti (Eds.), Genre Variation in Business Letters (pp. 179-204). Bern: Peter Lang.

Gillaerts, P. (1996). The address to the shareholders in annual reports. A genological approach. In 1996 European Writing Conferences. Barcelona: Institut de Ciencies de l’Educació (CD-ROM: EARLI Special Interest Group Writing).

Grice, H. P. (1969). Utterer’s meaning and intention. ThePhilosophical Review, 78, 147-177. DOI:

Grosz, B. J. & Sidner, C. L. (1986). Attention, intentions, and the structure of discourse. Computational Linguistics, 12(3), 175-204.

Hendriks, B., van Meurs, F., Korzilius, H., le Pair, R. & le Blanc-Damen, S. (2012). Style congruency and persuasion: A cross-cultural study into the influence of differences in style dimensions on the persuasiveness of business newsletters in Great Britain and the Netherlands. Professional Communication, IEEE Transactions on, 55(2), 122-141. DOI:

Hofstede, G. & Hofstede, G. J. (2005). Cultures and organizations: The software of the mind. New York: McGraw Hill.

Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J. & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind: Intercultural Cooperation and its Importance for Survival (3:rd ed). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Hyland, K. (1998). Exploring corporate rhetoric: Metadiscourse in the CEO’s letter. Journal of Business Communication, 35(2), 224-245. DOI:

Ismail, J., Azaviadis, M. & Jusoff, K. (2009). An overview of the cross-cultural business negotiation between Malaysia and Australia. Canadian Social Science, 4(5), 129-142.

Kaasa, A., Vadi, M. & Varblane, U. (2013). European Social Survey as a source of new cultural dimensions estimates for regions. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 13(2), 137-157. DOI:

Kankaanranta, A. (2013). The evolution of English as the business lingua franca. Signs of convergence in Chinese and Finnish professional communication. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 27(3), 288-307. DOI:

Kaul, A. (2004). Business Communication. Delhi: Prentice-Hall of India Pvt.Ltd.

Kolman, L., Noorderhaven, N. G., Hofestede, G. & Dienes, E. (2003). Cross-cultural differences in Central Europe. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 18(1), 76-88. DOI:

Landrum, N. E. (2008). A narrative analysis revealing strategic intent and posture. Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, 3(2), 127-145. DOI:

Mateo, J. & Yus, F. (2009). Business language from a cognitive perspective. In V. Guillén-Nieto, C. Marimón-Llorca & C. Vargas-Sierra (Eds.), Intercultural business communication and simulation and gaming technology (pp. 97-118). Bern: Peter Lang.

Nickerson, C. & de Groot, E. (2005). Dear shareholder, dear stockholder, dear stakeholder. The business letter genre in the annual general report. In P. Gillaerts & M. Gotti (Eds.), Genre variation in business letters (pp. 325-246). Bern: Peter Lang.

Recanati, F. (1986). On defining communicative intentions. Mind & Language, 1(3), 213-241. DOI:

Ruiz-Garrido, M., Fortanet-Gómez, I., & Palmer-Silveira, J. C. (2012). Introducing British and Spanish companies to investors: Building the corporate image through the Chairman’s Statement. In J. Aritz & R. C. Walker (Eds.), Discourse Perspectives on Organizational Communication (pp. 159-178). Plymouth: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.

Sagiv, L. & Schwartz, S. H. (2007). Cultural values in organisations: insights for Europe. European Journal of International Management, 1(3), 176-190. DOI:

Saint-Jacques, B. (2012). Intercultural communication in a globalized world. In L. A. Samovar, R. E. Porter & E. R. McDaniel (Eds.), (13:th ed). Intercultural Communication: A reader (pp. 45-56). Wadsworth: Cengage Learning

Schiffer, S. R. (1972). Meaning. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Searle, J. (1969). Speech Acts: An essay in the philosophy of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI:

Spencer-Oatey, H. & Xing, J. (2003). Managing rapport in intercultural business interactions: A comparison of two Chinese-British welcome meetings. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 24(1), 33-46. DOI:

Sperber, D., & Wilson, D. (1995). Relevance: Communication and Cognition, (2:nd ed). Oxford: Blackwell.

Stojanović-Prelević, I. (2011). On communicative intention and saying/implicating distinction. Facta Universitatis. Series: Linguistics and Literature,9(2), 107-114.

Straub, D. W. (1994). The effect of culture on IT diffusion: e-mail and fax in Japan and the U.S. Information Systems Research, 5, 23-47. DOI:

Swales, J. (1990). Genre analysis: English in academic and research settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tabellini, G. (2010). Culture and institutions: Economic development in the regions of Europe. Journal of the European Economic Association, 8(4), 677-716. DOI:

Taillard, M. O. (2002). Beyond communicative intention. UCL Working papers in linguistics, 14, 189-206.

Tanaka, H. (2006). Emerging English-speaking business discourse in Japan. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication, 16(1), 25-50. DOI:

Thompson, J. R. (2014). Meaning and mindreading. Mind & Language, 29(2), 167-200. DOI:

United Nations Statistics Division (2013). Composition of macrogeographical (continental) regions. Standard Country and Area Codes Classifications (revised 31 October 2013). From [08/01/2015].

Vergaro, C. (2002). “Dear Sirs: what would you do if you were in our position?” Discourse strategies in Italian and English money chasing letters. Journal of Pragmatics, 34(9), 1211-1233. DOI:

Vergaro, C. (2004). Discourse strategies of Italian and English sales promotion letters. English for Specific Purposes 23(2), 181-207. DOI:

Vergaro, C. (2005). “Dear Sirs, I hope you will find this information useful”: discourse strategies in Italian and English “For Your Information” (FYI) letter. Discourse Studies, 7(1), 109-135. DOI:

Vergoossen, R. G. A. (1993). The use and perceived importance of annual reports by investment analysts in the Netherlands. European Accounting Review, 2(2), 219-244. DOI:

Williams, R.M. (1970) American Society: A Sociological Interpretation, (3:rd ed). New York: Knopf.

Yunxia, Z. (2000). Structural moves reflected in English and Chinese sales letters. Discourse studies, 2(4), 473-496. DOI:

Zhu, Y. (2005). Written communication across cultures: A sociocognitive perspective on business discourse. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. DOI:

Zhu, Y. (2013). A cross-cultural analysis of English and Chinese business faxes: A genre perspective. Ibérica, 26, 35-54.


Hanna Skorczynska (Primary Contact)
Rosa Giménez-Moreno
Author Biographies

Hanna Skorczynska, Departamento de Lingüística Aplicada Universidad Politécnica de Valencia

Dr Hanna Skorczynska is a senior lecturer in the Department of Applied Linguistics at the Universitat Politècnica de València (Spain). Her research interests include the use of metaphor in specialized discourse, intercultural professional communication, and genre variation in professional contexts, on which she has published journal articles and book chapters.

Rosa Giménez-Moreno, Department of English and German Studies at the Universitat de València

Dr Rosa Giménez-Moreno is a senior lecturer in the Department of English and German Studies at the Universitat de València (Spain). Since 1992 she has been researching and lecturing on communication in international business and economics, corpus analysis of professional genres and register variation in contemporary English. She has published more than thirty papers on these issues.

Skorczynska, H., & Giménez-Moreno, R. (2016). Variation in Letters to Shareholders from British, Polish and Spanish Companies - A Comparative Study. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 16(1), 1–16.

Article Details

Smart Citations via scite_
  • Abstract 85
  • Download PDF 24