Author: Chan, Shou San Susan
Title: A corpus-driven study on the discursive construction and realisation of U.S. and Chinese CEO biographies
Advisors: Ho, Victor (ENGL)
Degree: DALS
Year: 2021
Subject: Chief executive officers -- China -- Biography
Chief executive officers -- United States -- Biography
Discourse analysis
English language -- Business English
Business communication
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Faculty of Humanities
Pages: xv, 240 pages : illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: This thesis bridges two areas of study: language and business. It looks at an important yet under-researched text type: Chief Executive Officers' English biographies (CEO bios). The purpose of the study is to compare the linguistic features of American and Chinese CEO bios with the aim of discussing their language and communication implications. The present study accomplishes this by creating and analysing two specialised corpora of publicly-listed companies: The Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The dataset downloaded from the SSE and the NYSE in July 2018 covers 198 CEO bios with equal representation from the United States (U.S.) and China. The cross-disciplinary study adopts a mixed-method methodology (quantitative and qualitative) and a multi-level analysis (words/phrases, part-of-speech and semantic patterns). This keyness analysis, based on corpus linguistics computations, covers keyness-analysis on both similarities and differences of the discursive construction and representation of CEO bios as an organisational discourse reflective of corporate identity. The dataset was automatically tagged on multi-levels using the corpus computational tool Wmatrix4. The quantitative analysis was supplemented by a fine-grained concordance analysis using AntConc and deploying Sinclair's (1996, 2001) two obligatory categories of extended unit of meaning. The interpretive framework, based on organisational behaviour studies and dialectical approach, draws on the 'three levels of social life' model (Watson, 2008; 2009b) and benchmarks on the personal-contextual as well as similarities-differences dialectics (Martin & Nakayama, 1999; 2010) to facilitate a comprehensive interpretation of corpus-driven findings from individual, organisational and societal perspectives.
The results show that the NYSE and SSE corpora were largely similar on choice of words/phrases (business terms in particular job titles), part-of-speech (nouns to describe CEO's titles and qualifications) and semantic patterns (CEO and company related themes; time information). However, the discursive construction and realisation of the NYSE and SSE corpora portrayed different facets of a typical CEO. At the individual level, U.S. CEOs were depicted as actions- and results-oriented, reflecting an importance in achieved status. For Chinese CEOs, their core competences were based on individual ascribed status, notably seniority (in terms of age), gender (male), and ethnicity (Chinese). At the corporate level, U.S. CEOs focused on their businesses and sought for growth as well as establishing relationships with multiple stakeholders, while Chinese CEOs were expected to hold many concurrent titles (with no achievements specified) in both business and political dimensions. At socio-economic and political levels, foreign market exposure outside the U.S. was seen as an asset for U.S. CEOs, while Chinese CEOs tended to focus on their services with the Communist Party of China or its related organisations. The present study adds to the body of work that argues there is empirical value in using short texts and that no text is completely neutral. The findings have practical implications for regional communicators, as they are required to produce CEO bios for international readers. Stakeholders responsible for such texts need to customise their texts according to differences across countries. The present study also suggests that senior executives from China and the U.S. working together need to have more acute awareness and appreciation in terms of preferred senior executive competences for individual and corporate identity building.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: restricted access

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