The purpose of this paper is to observe and explain signs of a historical change in the form of annual reporting of very large British industrial corporations. It is based on an argument by Sikes [1986], supported by Ewen [1988], that contemporary business management uses the annual report to reflect corporate style by means of visual metaphors of corporate character. Using data extracted from the annual reports of a small sample of British industrial corporations, the paper reports results consistent with the argument. The data indicate the annual reports of these corporations have increasingly been used as stylistic means of establishing corporate identity in a consumer-oriented world. This raises concern about the effectiveness of such reports as mechanisms of corporate governance.

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