Investigating presentational change in UK annual reports: a longitudinal perspective

Beattie, V., Dhanani, A. and Jones, M. (2008) Investigating presentational change in UK annual reports: a longitudinal perspective. Journal of Business Communication, 45(2), pp. 181-222. (doi:10.1177/0021943607313993)



Publisher's URL:


This article examines structural and format changes in annual reports of U.K. listed companies from 1965 to 2004 with a particular focus on graph use. The article compares a new sample of 2004 annual reports with preexisting samples by Lee and by Beattie and Jones. Lee's identified trends continue. There has been a sharp increase in page length, voluntary information, and narrative information, particularly among large listed companies. A detailed analysis of voluntary disclosure indicates changes in the incidence and pattern of generic sections. Graph usage is now universal. However, key financial graph use has slightly declined, replaced by graphs depicting other operating issues. Impression management through selectivity, graphical measurement distortion, and manipulation of the length of time series graphed are common. Overall, annual reports continue to exhibit many features of public relations documents rather than financially driven, statutory documents, and the analysis of graph usage suggests a need for policy guidelines to protect users.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:annual report, graphs, impression management, longitudinal study, narratives, pictures
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Beattie, Prof Vivien
Authors: Beattie, V., Dhanani, A., and Jones, M.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Accounting and Finance
Journal Name:Journal of Business Communication
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2008 Sage
First Published:First published in Journal of Business Communication 45(2):181-222
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record