Rhetorical Strategies of Legitimacy in Management Reports: Responses to Anti-Smoking Motion

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Susana Cipriano Dias Raffaelli
Paulo Mello Garcias
Márcia Maria dos Santos Bortolocci Espejo
Henrique Portulhak


The Brazilian anti-smoking movement has led to the development of laws that threaten the legitimacy of companies in the sector. The companies can adopt strategic rhetorical actions in order to gain, maintain or recover legitimacy. Such actions are visible in company governance reports (GR) and characterized as social communication. Thus, this study aimed to verify how the leader in the tobacco industry, Souza Cruz S/A, used GR content as strategic rhetoric instruments for legitimacy between 1986 and 2012. Organizational institutionalism is used as the theoretical framework of this paper and data was treated to content analysis. Analysis of Souza Cruz S/A reports show efforts to maintain legitimacy during the analyzed period by using elements of rhetoric (logos, pathos and ethos) to defend its claims that: (a) smoking is an rational adult choice, (b) legislation supports illegal cigarette trade; and (c) company activities bring benefits to society. This study shows that is possible to use governance reports as a source of analysis in organizational studies, presents rhetoric as strategy and invites managers to reflect about the environmental influence on organizational strategies.


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Raffaelli, S. C. D., Garcias, P. M., Espejo, M. M. dos S. B., & Portulhak, H. (1). Rhetorical Strategies of Legitimacy in Management Reports: Responses to Anti-Smoking Motion. Journal of Contemporary Administration, 21(3), 286-307. https://doi.org/10.1590/1982-7849rac2017150166