Call for Presenters:

 Business Practices Committee

Sponsored Panel for 2020 ABC Annual Conference

 The ABC Business Practices Committee is inviting submissions for the theme:

Perception v. Reality:  Misinformation and Disinformation in Corporate and Workplace Communication

In 2018, shareholders of Wells Fargo filed a class action suit in U.S. federal court, alleging that—despite executives’ public apologies and promises to do right by customers and to become a trusted bank—scandals continued to plague Wells.  As a result, the litigating shareholders, many of whom purchased stock in anticipation of increased value because of the anticipated reforms, had lost large sums.  Bank attorneys filed a response that denied corporate responsibility for these losses.  “These statements,” stated corporate counsel of the executives’ pledges of new transparency, “are paradigmatic examples of non-actionable corporate puffery on which no reasonable investor could rely.”  In short, shareholders should have realized that the bank’s pronouncements (including promises from the CEO) were basically no more than “sales talk,” not to be trusted for investment purposes.     

According to the Gallup Organization, the defense offered by Wells lawyers is somewhat substantiated by Americans’ deep distrust of the promises and claims made by “big business” and by banks.  In 2019, 34% of polled Americans asserted that they have “very little” or no trust in large corporations.  Twenty-six percent evince a similar lack of trust in banks.  (By contrast, 68% assert a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of trust in small businesses.)  Misinformation or disinformation in corporate communications—such as “corporate puffery”—contribute to this lack of trust.

The terms “misinformation” and “disinformation” are now commonplace.  Used especially in the context of political discourse, these words are also frequently associated with the pronouncements of large corporations.  Although we lack a clear distinction between these terms, both “misinformation” and “disinformation” refer to the communication of inaccurate (or, in the case of “disinformation,” patently false) information for the purpose of influencing opinion or obscuring truth.  Our students and graduates may also, as employees, have encountered the problem of disentangling the veracity of workplace communications from the ambiguous, the partially truthful, or the false.         

The theme of the 2020 ABC Annual International Conference in San Diego, California, is “Strengthening B-comm in an Era where Perception is Reality.”  The Business Practices Committee will sponsor a panel hosted at this Conference; its focus will be “Perception v. Reality:  Misinformation and Disinformation in Corporate and Workplace Communication.”  The panel will include four presentations that offer original research concerning the ways in which misinformation and disinformation influence the content of corporate and workplace communications and their rhetorical exigences, the methods by which messages are communicated, and the intended (or unintended) consequences of these communications.  Case studies, historical analyses, ethnographic treatments, rhetorical and discourse analyses, quantitative studies, or other appropriate research methodologies are welcomed.   

 

Individuals or research teams interested in presenting their research are invited to submit a proposal abstract (approximately 500 words) as indicated below.  It is not necessary to prepare a full manuscript in order to be considered for the panel.  Panelists will be selected based upon review by members of the Business Practices Committee.

 

Please send abstracts by May 7, 2020, to the Committee Chair, Sam DeKay, at shdekay@earthlink.net

 

If you have further questions concerning the Business Practices Committee or its sponsored panel at the 2020 International Conference, please contact the above email address.