Discursive constructions of corporate identities by Chinese banks on Sina Weibo : an integrated sociolinguistics approach

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Discursive constructions of corporate identities by Chinese banks on Sina Weibo : an integrated sociolinguistics approach

 

Author: Feng, Wei
Title: Discursive constructions of corporate identities by Chinese banks on Sina Weibo : an integrated sociolinguistics approach
Degree: DALS
Year: 2015
Subject: Social media.
Discourse analysis -- Social aspects.
Corporate image.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Faculty of Humanities
Pages: x, 306 pages : illustrations
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2827624
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/8268
Abstract: Given the speedy development of social media in revolutionizing the way corporate communications used to be undertaken, the present study attempts to address one pressing yet somehow neglected issue: the discursive construction of corporate identities on social media by Chinese corporations. Two Chinese banks, the Bank of China (BOC) as representing the state-owned bank and the China Merchants Bank (CMB) as representing the joint-equity bank, have been selected for the study as they are epitomes of the enormous corporations currently engaged in social media. The entire microblogging updates by these two corporations during a time span of six-month (from 1st September 2013 to 28th February 2014) have been collected for the present investigation. A dialogic framework of corporate identity formation is developed and an integrated sociolinguistics approach is attempted which draws upon a number of methods of analysis including thematic analysis, interactional analysis and in-depth interviews so as to investigate the common and differential means the BOC and the CMB have tried to construct their corporate identities, to manage their corporate images, and to co-construct their corporate identities with their followers on Sina Weibo. The findings have illuminated differential multi-faceted identities of the selected corporations on Sina Weibo. Specifically, the CMB has primarily projected itself as an intimate companion to its six million followers, whereas the BOC has projected at least tripartite identities: a companion identity, an authentic identity and an industry specialist identity. In addition, two overarching impression management strategies are discovered: humanizing and popularizing the corporate self and persuading others into trusting (and eventually trading with) the corporate self. Furthermore, a careful examination of the interaction patterns between the corporation and the followers on Sina Weibo has revealed a handful of dialogic patterns with its relevant linguistic realizations that are used in the process of identity co-construction: storytelling/praise-acknowledgement and question-teasing between the BOC and its followers versus question-teasing, storytelling-teasing, storytelling/praise-acknowledgement, question-answer and teasing-counterteasing between the CMB and its followers. Finally, the variations in corporate identities between the two corporations are both statistically elucidated and qualitatively discussed vis-a-vis the in-depth interview data. The present study bears special significance to the theoretical and methodological development of studying corporate identity by developing a dialogic framework of analysis, which illuminates and explicates the multiplicity and fluidity of corporate identity construction on social media such as Sina Weibo. Furthermore, it bears significant practical implications for both practitioners and teachers or trainers in corporate communication who are faced with the challenges in managing public relations and corporate images in the age of social media.

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