Cooperative Orientation in Earnings Calls

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Published Apr 29, 2022
Heidi Hirsto Merja Koskela Kaisa Penttinen


Financial communication refers to the meaning-making practices by which listed companies interact with their publics to exchange information about issues that may have an effect on the share price. An important site for financial communication is the so-called earnings call, where companies present their quarterly or yearly results and engage in dialogue with analysts and other interested parties. In this paper, we analyze earnings calls from the perspective of the cooperative principle presented by Grice. Our aim is to shed light on how the maxims of cooperation are enacted by expert members of the business community in order to construct joint understanding in the potentially conflicting setting of the earnings call. The empirical data consists of the transcripts of four earnings calls held by globally operating stock-listed companies. Our analysis indicates that earnings calls rely on particularized conversational implicatures, whereby participants may strategically breach the cooperative maxims on the formal level while at the same time orienting to each other’s practical goals and performing as a cooperative team of professionals in a strictly regulated context. One recurring way of doing this is by asking questions that cannot be answered directly but prompt responses with incremental or “soft” information. We argue that the specialized practices of cooperation are linked to the nature of the earnings call as a public performance where participants need to orient to self-presentational and relational concerns as well as regulative restrictions.

How to Cite

Hirsto, Heidi, Merja Koskela, and Kaisa Penttinen. 2022. “Cooperative Orientation in Earnings Calls”. Fachsprache 44 (1-2):59-79.
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Article Details


cooperative principle, conversational maxims, financial communication, professional communication, earnings call