A Contrastive Study of the Construction of Corporate Environmental Image in Chinese and American Corporate Social Responsibility Reports from the Perspective of Systemic Functional Grammar


By disclosing more corporate environmental protection information in a corporate social responsibility (CSR) report, a company could enhance their competitive advantage and improve corporate image to attract more customers. This study aims to conduct a contrastive analysis of the Chinese and American corporations’ environmental protection discourse in their CSR reports so as to explore the similarities and differences between them as well as cultural reasons for the differences. We select China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and ExxonMobil (EM) as the subjects for study. With the help of corpus tool and from the perspective of systemic functional grammar, our study finds that material processes are used most frequently in both of Chinese and American corporations’ CSR reports. EM tends to apply more relational and mental processes to construct a powerful and confident image of a corporation which has rich experience in protecting environment and is optimistic about environmental protection, while CNPC uses less mental and relational processes to show a corporation which is very concerned about environment and has made some achievements. And present tense takes up the largest proportion in EM’s environmental discourse to emphasize what they are doing, while CNPC tends to use more past tense to show that in the past years they have done a lot in environmental protection. Modality appears more frequently in EM’s reports to build a closer relationship with stakeholders. The differences can be explained by their different value orientations towards time, motive for behaving and relating to other people because China is a past and hierarchical oriented society while America is a future and present oriented as well as individualistic oriented society.

Keywords: CSR reports, Systemic Functional Grammar, corporate environmental protection image, value orientation theory

Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 13-30 (Download PDF)

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