JSE Delisted Companies' Use of Impression Management Practices in the Chairman’s Statement and Audit Committee Report Preceding Delisting from the 2016-2021 Period


  • Masibulele PHESA University of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
  • Mabutho SIBANDA University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa
  • Zamanguni Hariatah GUMEDE University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa




Impression-management, delisted companies, chairman’s statement, audit committee report


The study examined whether Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE Ltd) delisted companies used impression management in the chairman’s statements and audit committee's reports preceding delisting from 2016 to 2021. There is a concerning trend of delisting from JSE, which may be voluntary or compulsory. The chairman’s statement is highly ranked as the most read voluntary narrative disclosure statement. Furthermore, as assurance providers and governance structure, the audit committee is expected to assure the organisation as a whole. The study uses quantitative content analysis on integrated reports of the JSE-delisted companies from 2016 to 2021. Impression management is examined for length, use of passive voice, and the use of personal references in the chairman’s statement and audit committee report. The study examined and provided insight into impression management practices used by delisted companies and ascertains whether there is a systematic difference in the use of impression management between profitable and unprofitable in the year preceding delisting. The study shows that delisted companies used impression management on the verge of delisting and this opportunistic behavior was used by both boards of directors and audit committees. This study contributes to the novelty of knowledge on impression management. It is the first of its kind.


Download data is not yet available.


Abeysekera, I. (2013). A template for integrated reporting. Journal of Intellectual Capital 14(2), 227-245. https://doi.org/10.1108/14691931311323869

Al-Sayani, Y. M., Mohamad Nor, M. N., & Amran, N. A. (2020). The influence of audit committee characteristics on impression management in chairman statement: Evidence from Malaysia. Cogent Business & Management, 7(1), 1774250. https://doi.org/10.1080/23311975.2020.1774250

Al-Shaer, H., Malik, M. F., & Zaman, M. (2021). What do audit committees do? Transparency and impression management. Journal of Management and Governance, 1-26,1443–1468. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10997-021-09591-9

Al-Shaer, H., & Zaman, M. (2021). Audit committee disclosure tone and earnings management. Journal of Applied Accounting Research 22(5), 780-799. https://doi.org/10.1108/JAAR-12-2020-0243

Banks, D. (2017). The extent to which the passive voice is used in the scientific journal article, 1985–2015. Functional Linguistics, 4(1), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40554-017-0045-5

Barney, J. B. (2018). Why resource?based theory's model of profit appropriation must incorporate a stakeholder perspective. Strategic Management Journal, 39(13), 3305–3325. https://doi.org/10.1002/smj.2949

Bielenia-Grajewska, M. (2010). Corporate social responsibility and communication with stakeholders. Studia Germanica Gedanensia, 23, 171-185.

Bortolon, P. M., & da Silva Junior, A. (2015). Delisting Brazilian public companies: Empirical evidence about corporate governance issues. Brazilian Business Review, 12(Special Ed), 97-124. https://doi.org/10.15728/bbrconf.2015.5

Brennan, N. M., & Merkl-Davies, D. M. (2013a). Accounting narratives and impression management. The Routledge Companion to accounting communication, 109-132.

Brennan, N. M., & Merkl-Davies, D. M. (2013b). Accounting narratives and impression management. In The Routledge Companion to accounting communication (pp. 123-146). Routledge.

Cen, Z., & Cai, R. (2013). ‘Impression management in Chinese corporations: a study of chairperson's statements from the most and least profitable Chinese companies. Asia Pacific Business Review, 19(4), 490-505. https://doi.org/10.1080/13602381.2013.811825

Cena, Z., & Caib, R. (2015). ‘Impression management in Chinese corporations: a study of chairperson’s statements from the most and least profitable Chinese companies. Demystifying Chinese Management: Issues and Challenges, 56.

Cho, C. H., Michelon, G., & Patten, D. M. (2012). Impression management in sustainability reports: An empirical investigation of the use of graphs. Accounting and the Public Interest, 12(1), 16-37. https://doi.org/10.2308/apin-10249

Clatworthy, M., & Jones, M. J. (2001). The effect of thematic structure on the variability of annual report readability. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 14(3), 311–326. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513570110399890

Clatworthy, M. A., & Jones, M. J. (2006). Differential patterns of textual characteristics and company performance in the chairman's statement. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 19(4), 493–511. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513570610679100

Compernolle, T. (2013, May). Accountability to the audit committee: Running risks and managing impressions. In CAAA Annual Conference. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2201250

Cooper, S., & Slack, R. (2015). Reporting practice, impression management, and company performance: A longitudinal and comparative analysis of water leakage disclosure. Accounting and business research, 45(6-7), pp. 801–840. https://doi.org/10.1080/00014788.2015.1081554

Diouf, D., & Boiral, O. (2017). The quality of sustainability reports and impression management: A stakeholder perspective. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 30(3), 643-667. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-04-2015-2044

Feltovich, N. (2003). NonparametricNonparametric tests of differences in medians: comparison of the Wilcoxon–Mann–Whitney and robust rank-order tests. Experimental Economics, 6, 273-297. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1026273319211

García-Sánchez, I.-M., Suárez-Fernández, O., & Martínez-Ferrero, J. (2019). Female directors and impression management in sustainability reporting. International business review, 28(2), 359-374. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ibusrev.2018.10.007

Grandori, A. (2004). Corporate governance and firm organization: Microfoundations and structural forms. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199269761.001.0001

Harrison, J. S., Barney, J. B., Freeman, R. E., & Phillips, R. A. (2019). The Cambridge Handbook of stakeholder theory. Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108123495

Hörisch, J., Schaltegger, S., & Freeman, R. E. (2020). Integrating stakeholder theory and sustainability accounting: A conceptual synthesis. Journal of Cleaner Production, 275, 124097. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.124097

Jugnandan, S., & Willows, G. D. (2021). “It is a long story…”–impression management in South African corporate reporting. Accounting Research Journal 35(5), 581–597. https://doi.org/10.1108/ARJ-07-2021-0209

Leung, S., Parker, L., & Curtis, J. (2015). Impression management through minimal narrative disclosure in annual reports. The British accounting review, 47(3), 275–289. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bar.2015.04.002

Lukasiewicz, M. (2017). From diamonds to gold: The making of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, 1880–1890. Journal of Southern African Studies, 43(4), 715-732. https://doi.org/10.1080/03057070.2017.1307675

Mangena, M., & Chamisa, E. (2008). Corporate governance and incidences of listing suspension by the JSE Securities Exchange of South Africa: An empirical analysis. The International Journal of Accounting, 43(1), 28-44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intacc.2008.01.002

Mans-Kemp, N., Erasmus, P., & Viviers, S. (2016). Advances in the corporate governance practices of Johannesburg Stock Exchange companies. Southern African Business Review, 20(1), 71-93. https://doi.org/10.25159/1998-8125/6044

Maroun, W. (2017). Assuring the integrated report: Insights and recommendations from auditors and preparers. The British Accounting Review, 49(3), 329–346. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bar.2017.03.003

Martinez, I., & Serve, S. (2017). Reasons for delisting and consequences: A literature review and research agenda. Journal of Economic Surveys, 31(3), 733-770. https://doi.org/10.1111/joes.12170

Melloni, G., Stacchezzini, R., & Lai, A. (2016). The tone of business model disclosure: an impression management analysis of the integrated reports. Journal of Management & Governance, 20(2), 295-320. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10997-015-9319-z

Merkl-Davies, D. M., & Brennan, N. M. (2011). A conceptual framework of impression management: new insights from psychology, sociology, and critical perspectives. Accounting and business research, 41(5), 415-437. https://doi.org/10.1080/00014788.2011.574222

Merkl?Davies, D. M., Brennan, N. M., & McLeay, S. J. (2011). Impression management and retrospective sense?making in corporate narratives: A social psychology perspective. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 24(3), 315–344. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513571111124036

Mmako, N. (2016). The chairperson's statement: Understanding prioritization of discretionary disclosures by Johannesburg Security Exchange listed companies. Journal of Contemporary Management, 13(1), 385–408.

Moola, M. (2016). An exploratory study into impression management practices of chairman's statements in South African annual reports (Doctoral dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand, Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, School of Accountancy).

Moreno, A., Jones, M. J., & Quinn, M. (2019). A longitudinal study of the textual characteristics in the chairman’s statements of Guinness: An impression management perspective. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 32(6), 1714-1741. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-01-2018-3308

Naaman, C., Naaman, K., & Sahyoun, N. (2021). Disclaimer language in US banks’ audit committee reports: determinants and consequences. Meditari Accountancy Research 21(2), 1-22.

Neu, D. (1991). Trust, impression management, and the public accounting profession. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 2(3), 295–313. https://doi.org/10.1016/1045-2354(91)90015-6

Nkhi, N., Varachia, Z., & Cerbone, D. (2021). Impression management techniques employed by listed companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange when using Twitter. Communicare: Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa, 40(2), 129-151. https://doi.org/10.36615/jcssa.v40i2.1314

Oliveira, J., Azevedo, G., & Borges, F. (2016). Impression management and self-presentation dissimulation in Portuguese chairman’s statements. Corporate Communications: An International Journal 21(3),388-408. https://doi.org/10.1108/CCIJ-11-2015-0074

Osma, B. G., & Guillamón-Saorín, E. (2011). Corporate governance and impression management in annual results press releases. Accounting, organizations and society, 36(4-5), 187-208. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aos.2011.03.005

Ozsozgun Caliskan, A., Esen, E., & Barkemeyer, R. (2021). Impression management tactics in the CEO statements of Turkish sustainability reports. Business Ethics, the Environment & Responsibility, 30(4), 485-506. https://doi.org/10.1111/beer.12374

Padayachee, N. K. D. (2010). The application and relevance of spiritual leadership in the JSE top 40 companies (Doctoral dissertation, University of Pretoria).

Parmar, B. L., Freeman, R. E., Harrison, J. S., Wicks, A. C., Purnell, L., & De Colle, S. (2010). Stakeholder theory: The state of the art. Academy of Management Annals, 4(1), 403–445. https://doi.org/10.5465/19416520.2010.495581

Phesa, M. (2021). Impression management observation in chairman statements in JSE Top 40 listed companies (Doctoral dissertation).

Phesa, M., Khumalo, Q. P., & Sibanda, M. (2021). Impression Management Examination in Chairpersons’ Statements in the Top 40 JSE Listed Companies. In Mbali Conference 2021 Proceedings (p. 121).

Phesa, M., Khumalo, Q. P., & Sibanda, M. (2021b). Impression Management Examination in Chairpersons’ Statements in the Top 40 JSE Listed Companies. Mbali Conference 2021 Proceedings, University of Zululand.

Roman, A.-G., Mocanu, M., & Hoinaru, R. (2019). Disclosure style and its determinants in integrated reports. Sustainability, 11(7), 1960. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11071960

Roussy, M., & Rodrigue, M. (2018). Internal Audit: Is the ‘Third Line of Defense’effective as a form of governance? An exploratory study of the impression management techniques chief audit executives use in their annual accountability to the audit committee. Journal of Business Ethics, 151(3), 853-869. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-016-3263-y

Sahyoun, N. (2018). Voluntary Disclosures in the Audit Committee Report (Doctoral dissertation, Concordia University).

Sahyoun, N., & Magnan, M. (2020). The association between voluntary disclosure in audit committee reports and banks’ earnings management. Managerial Auditing Journal 35(6), 795-817. https://doi.org/10.1108/MAJ-05-2019-2279

Sandell, N., & Svensson, P. (2016). The language of failure: The use of accounts in financial reports. International Journal of Business Communication, 53(1), 5-26. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488414525452

Smith, M., & Taffler, R. J. (2000). The chairman’s statement?A content analysis of discretionary narrative disclosures. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 13(5), 624–647. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513570010353738

Soriya, S., & Rastogi, P. (2022). A systematic literature review on integrated reporting from 2011 to 2020. Journal of Financial Reporting and Accounting, 20(3/4), 558-579. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFRA-09-2020-0266

Stainbank, L., & Peebles, C. (2006). The usefulness of corporate annual reports in South Africa: perceptions of preparers and users. Meditari: Research Journal of the School of Accounting Sciences, 14(1), 69-80. https://doi.org/10.1108/10222529200600005

Surety, M., Yasseen, Y., & Padia, N. (2018). Trends in integrated reporting: a state-owned company analysis. Southern African Business Review, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.25159/1998-8125/3841

Totowa, J., & Mokoaleli-Mokoteli, T. (2021). Chairman's Letter, Impression Management, and Governance Mechanisms: A Case of South African Listed Firms. African Finance Journal, 23(1), 1-19.

Varachia, Z., & Yasseen, Y. (2020). The use of graphs as an impression management tool in the annual integrated reports of South African listed entities. Journal of Economic and Financial Sciences, 13(1), 11. https://doi.org/10.4102/jef.v13i1.548

Velte, P. (2018). Is audit committee expertise connected with increased readability of integrated reports: Evidence from EU companies. Problems and Perspectives in Management, 16(2), 23–41.

Wang, J. (2016). Literature review on impression management in corporate information disclosure. Modern Economy, 7(6), 725–731. https://doi.org/10.21511/ppm.16(2).2018.03

Yasseen, Y., Mohamed, W., & Moola-Yasseen, M. (2019). Using impression management practices in the chairman's statements in South African annual reports: An agency theory perspective. Communicare: Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa, 38(1), 37–56. https://doi.org/10.36615/jcsa.v38i1.1542

Yasseen, Y., Moola-Yasseen, M., & Padia, N. (2017). A preliminary study into impression management practices in chairman’s statements in South African annual reports: an attribution theory perspective. Communicare: Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa, 36(1), 47–66. https://doi.org/10.36615/jcsa.v36i1.1578

Zenger, T. R., Felin, T., & Bigelow, L. (2011). Theories of the firm–market boundary. Academy of Management Annals, 5(1), 89-133. https://doi.org/10.5465/19416520.2011.590301