Communicating transparency: New trends in English-language corporate and institutional disclosure practices in intercultural settings (Prot. 2020TJTA55)

In corporate and institutional settings, transparency refers to the degree of openness in disclosing information to key stakeholders as well as the public at large. Communicating an image of transparency remains a critical objective, particularly in light of recurring scandals and growing scrutiny on the part of informed citizens. Towards this end, corporate and institutional actors are called upon to produce communications that disclose information in a way that is perceived as transparent and trustworthy.

The global reach of modern corporations and institutions has resulted in the widespread adoption of English as the language of disclosure, representing a shared code capable of surmounting language barriers, irrespective of country of origin. Therefore, the aim of this project is to investigate how transparency is reflected in the disclosure practices of corporations and institutions operating in international/intercultural contexts and thus using English to achieve this purpose. Five research units will investigate transparency in disclosure practices across selected sectors and communicative events with considerable impact on the lives of contemporary citizens: Pisa (the fashion industry), Cagliari (the energy sector), Modena and Reggio Emilia (transportation and the environment), Rome (health and medicine) and Verona ((supra)national institutional spoken communicative events related to medicine, transport, the environment, energy, fashion and politics).

The research units will compile and analyze a series of modular corpora comprising written and oral disclosure genres in order to shed light on how transparency is manifested, enhanced, or hindered. Particular attention will be paid to disclosure genres that are emerging or evolving thanks to innovative digital affordances. The shared methodological approaches and analytical frameworks among the research units encompass genre analysis, corpus-assisted discourse analysis, pragmalinguistics, critical discourse analysis, multimodality, and intercultural communication. Analyses will address particular features that may be leveraged to encode meanings related to transparency, including structural and rhetorical patterns in texts; intertextuality and interdiscursivity, distinctive lexico-grammatical and pragmatic devices; multimodal resources; and elements associated with intercultural communication.

The expected outcomes of the project are: 1) a heightened understanding of transparency as a communicative construct, 2) an in-depth and critical analysis of the linguistic/extralinguistic realization of transparency in the communications of globally relevant corporations and institutions, 3) the identification of new trends in disclosure practices, 4) the development of corpus resources for ongoing investigations of transparency, 5) research-informed applications that assist English language learners in acquiring communicative skills related to disclosure and transparency, and 6) guidelines and recommendations for professionals involved in the production of texts aiming to promote transparency.

Members of CLAVIER participating in the project

Pisa Unit:
Belinda Crawford (Principal Investigator)
Silvia Cacchiani

Modena-Reggio Emilia Unit:
Marina Bondi (Head)
Giuliana Diani
Donatella Malavasi
Denise Milizia
Franca Poppi
Judith Turnbull

Rome Unit:
Renzo Mocini (Head)
Laura Di Ferrante
Laura Ferrarotti
Cristina Gatti
Cinzia Giglioni
Laura Ferrarotti