Carillion’s strategic choices and boardroom’s strategies of persuasive appeals: ethos, logos, pathos

Fadi Alkaraan*, Mohammad Albahloul, Khaled Hussainey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Downloads (Pure)


Companies documents such as annual reports incorporate narratives of repetitive rhetorical strategies as effective mechanisms adopted by companies’ boardrooms to promote strategic change and strategic choices. These mechanisms can be viewed as persuasive appeals to facilitate boardroom discourses. Yet, such persuasive appeals are instrumental in releasing significant signs regarding the outcomes of unsuccessful strategic choices that led companies to collapse such as Enron (USA) and Carillion (UK). Despite the contribution of previous research through narrative analysis domains, conceptualization of narrative practices remains a relatively a neglected area in the extant accounting literature. This study attempts to offer insights to boardrooms discourses through critical discourse analysis of persuasive strategies embedded in company’s annual reports. Findings of this study show how persuasive strategies and repetitive slogans trigger the discourses of Carillion’s annual reports by drawing on perspectives from upper echelon theory, impression management and communication patterns. Our analytical framework is rooted in Aristotle’s three
pillars of rhetorical proofs; ethos (credibility/trustworthiness), pathos (emotion/identification through cultural domains) and logos (reason/rationale) in investigating narrative extracts regarding persuasive appeals strategies adopted by Carillion’s board through annual reports that facilitate discourse regarding Carillion strategic choices. Further, we emphasis on repetitive rhetorical slogans
strategies embedded in the annual reports regarding Carillion’s acquisitions strategy. We viewed acquisitions narratives as rhetorical communication artefacts and analyze the repetitive rhetoric slogans in these corporate documents. Findings reveal that Carillion’ board strategically use repetitive rhetoric slogans to shape optimistic corporate future performance which might be different from the feasible reality. Finally, we argue that corporate executives are striving to
construct an alternative reality stem from their initial unrealistic aspiration to lead their sector of less controlled market share. Findings of this study have theoretical and managerial implications.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Applied Accounting Research
Early online date2 Jan 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 2 Jan 2023


  • corporate disclosure
  • accounting
  • corporate governance
  • strategic choices
  • boardroom practices
  • rhetorical analysis
  • acquisitions
  • strategic investment decision-making


Dive into the research topics of 'Carillion’s strategic choices and boardroom’s strategies of persuasive appeals: ethos, logos, pathos'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this