Impression management strategies: the effects of attribution and presentantion order

Cardoso, Ricardo Lopes
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Purpose - This research analyzes how corporate narrative disclosure can be manipulated by preparers of accounting information to create a favorable impression of the company through an examination of two different impression-management (IM) strategies: (i) attribution, and (ii) ordering or physical location of information. Design/Methodology - We conducted a 4×2 mixed-design experiment to examine the impact of attribution and optimal direction of information order on earnings forecast and the impression created about the company. Findings - Results show that the favorable report read first, without attribution, positively affects the investor, and that the favorable information read first, with attribution, undermines the positive effect. Conversely, presenting unfavorable information, with attribution, first, minimizes the impact of this information. Our findings confirm self-promoter’s paradox idea. We also tested a sandwich and an interspersed ordering (control) group; these had the worst results. In a mediation analysis, we found that perceived impression about the company mediates the relationship between information and decision-making. In addition, our results show a significant difference in decision-making influenced by users’ characteristics. In a robustness test, we tested credibility of information as an alternative explanation, finding that credibility was not an alternative explanation for investors’ decision found in the experiment. We conclude by offering suggestions for further study of IM. Originality – To our knowledge, this is the first study that analyses the effects of both attribution and ordering strategies at the same time. Literature has addressed both strategies separately but has not discussed their interactive effect. This research addresses this gap.

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