Panel 5 | International relations & corporate communication

CADAAD2022 | 06-08/07/2022 | Bergamo, Italy

4 | Zohar Kampf, Tracy Adams, & Gadi Heimann

How do States Reminisce? Performing Friendship through Bonding Narratives in IR

Scholars of interpersonal communication have long considered reminiscing, the act of recounting past events or the process of reviewing life experiences (Butler 1963), a means to recreate with others the emotional bonds of a shared history (Reese, Haden, & Fivush 1996). While many studies have examined the forms and functions of reminiscing in interpersonal communication (Blieszner and Roberto 2004; Fivush 2008; Reese et al. 1996), accounts of this practice in international relations are lacking. This study asks how reminiscing during foreign state visits serves as a discursive means for building interstate relationships.

We consolidated three separate datasets of speeches delivered to and by three Western states during state visits—the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel. Studying evocations of past events in 455 speeches delivered during these visits between 2010 and 2020, we demonstrate the prevalence and significance of the practice of reminiscing in IR, highlighting the discursive efforts that political leaders invest in establishing and strengthening commonality between states.

Our findings show that reminiscing is a recurrent practice in IR, which aim to build friendly relationships between two states by co-telling bonding narratives that underline common history, experiences, and values. When political leaders strategically narrate intersections of their states' historical legacies, they construct a bilateral collective memory that serves as a resource for creating and sustaining friendship between states. In the process of narrating the dyadic story of friendship, state actors hierarchically organize events from the past, selecting the most relations-advancing components history can offer. The better the component serves the strategic narrative of bonding, the better it will serve the dyadic tale of friendship. Accordingly, political leaders prefer to rely on a shared past that is based on cooperation between their represented collectives rather than a parallel past, which is limited to similar experiences and values. They tend to prefer ongoing and recent events that still live in the memory of the collectives over specific and distant events. When the opportunity arises to further harness the past for strengthening relationship, political leaders present a familial connection or personalize a past event in order to create an appearance of kinship, the most intimate tie in human relations. When past shadows hover over the bilateral relations, political leaders mitigate the traumatic past, transforming the events into a resource for bonding in the present.

Our findings also suggest that bonding narratives do not forge one unitary identity but rather generate a link between two identities while maintaining each actor’s distinct character. Despite the unique nature of bonding narratives, the bilateral collective memory mostly relies on shared memories of wars, once again underlining the link between nations and violence.


Blieszner, R., and K. A. Roberto. 2004. "Friendship across the Life Span: Reciprocity in Individual and Relationship Development." In Growing Together: Personal Relationships across the Life Span, edited by Frieder R. Lang and Karen L. Fingerman, 159–182. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Butler, Robert. N. 1963. “The Life Review: An Interpretation of Reminiscence in the Aged.” Psychiatry 26(1): 65 – 76.

Fivush, R. 2008. "Remembering and Reminiscing: How Individual Lives Are Constructed in Family Narratives." Memory Studies 1 (1): 49–58.‏

Reese, E., C. A. Haden, and R. Fivush. 1996. "Mothers, Fathers, Daughters, Sons: Gender Differences in Autobiographical Reminiscing." Research on Language and Social Interaction 29 (1): 27–56.‏

59 | Anna Vogel

The role of civil society in the welfare state. Discursive shift in a nonprofit organization’s negotiations on distributing welfare services in Sweden.

During the 1900s, Sweden established itself as a generous welfare nation with a strong public sector. Around 2000, however, a change occurred such that, instead of the voluntary sector demanding accountability from the public sector, the public sector started commissioning the voluntary sector to execute services (Johansson 2005).

The aim of this study was to explore linguistic and discursive negotiations in organizational communication regarding how civil society can best contribute to the welfare state. This was performed from the perspective of a voluntary organization’s institutional dynamics regarding a specific issue of nonprofit welfare services. A case study was conducted of Save the Children Sweden planning to distribute welfare services, more specifically to start schools in Swedish socio-economically deprived areas in the suburbs. The plans of starting schools were later modified into activities of running youth recreation centers.

My investigation departed from the assumption that there exists a dialectical relationship between a particular discursive event and the situation(s), institution(s) and social practice(s) that frame it (Fairclough and Wodak, 1997, 258), and the view of discursive change as a concept operating at a macro-level, denoting framing of public discourse. Discursive shift is understood as a concept operating at a micro-level, leading to local appropriations of discursive change. These appropriations are actor-specific responses toward social, political and economic macro-level transformations (Fairclough, 1992, 6).

Discourse analysis was performed on a one-million-word corpus of internal documents 2010–2020.

Analytical research questions included:

How were arguments pro and counter welfare services in Sweden legitimized and framed?

How could discourses within the organization be related to societal discourses outside the organization?

Analytical methods included Actor Network Theory translation, entry level thematic analysis, legitimation analysis, argumentative frame analysis, recontextualization analysis and conceptual history analysis.

The results revealed a discursive shift in the organization, where a pro-welfare-services discourse fought a counter-welfare-services discourse. The pro-welfare-services arguments were framed by the alleged failure of the public sector, and it was expressed that civil society had to take responsibility and produce solutions. This discursive shift could be understood as an appropriation of a discursive change where the voluntary sector is professionalized – where hired staff replaces volunteers to perform services – as well as the discursive change tied to neoliberalism – where voluntary organizations can be understood as actors on a market of welfare services. In the negotiation, the counter-welfare-services discourse within the organization was framed as expressing a conflict between on the one hand performing welfare services, financed through the public sector, and on the other hand demanding accountability from the public sector. This counter discourse could be related to other discourses within and outside the organization, more specifically those of member democracy, of entitlement and of Marxism. Overall, a tension could be discerned regarding how civil society can best contribute to the welfare state.


Fairclough, Norman 1992. Discourse and Social Change. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Fairclough, Norman, and Wodak, Ruth. 1997. “Critical Discourse Analysis.” In: Discourse studies: A multidisciplinary introduction. Vol. 2 Discourse as social interaction, ed. by Theun Adrianus van Dijk, 258–284. London: Sage.

Johansson, Staffan. 2005. Ideella mål med offentliga medel. Förändrade förutsättningar för ideell välfärd. Stockholm: Sober förlag.

63 | Pietro Manzella

Remote Working as a Tool for Enhancing Corporate Reputation in Sustainability Reports. A Critical Discourse Analysis.

In response to the ongoing pandemic, companies have had to review their organizational model to contain the spread of the virus while ensuring business as normal. To this end, most employers have given their workforce the opportunity to work remotely when the nature of their work allowed them to do so, and these arrangements seem likely to gain even more momentum in the aftermath of COVID-19. Interestingly, the fact that staff were allowed to work from home was given particular emphasis in sustainability reports (SRs). The authors of these documents were careful to point out the benefits for employees, while assuming that this arrangement would also benefit the organization in terms of reputation. The relation between corporate reporting and corporate image has been examined in depth from different research perspectives (Bargiela-Chiappini 2009; Breeze 2013; Carroll 2015). In a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) perspective, it has been argued that in addition to describing the actions carried out, corporate documents – e.g. SRs and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports – project a positive image of the company and examine related strategies, objectives and plans, particularly when reputation and trust are affected (Catenaccio 2012). With reference to SRs, they may be regarded as a hybrid genre of corporate discourse, performing both an informative and a promotional function. They strengthen corporate identity in debates about issues relevant to stakeholders. More importantly, these documents are intended to enable corporations to enhance, maintain or repair their reputation (Molino 2019), by showing how they promote shared values.

Against this backdrop, this paper aims to investigate the way the implementation of remote working has been used in sustainability reports as a means to enhance corporate reputation. Specifically, the analysis will consider how the message was formulated in order to cast the company in the most favourable light. Emphasis will be placed on the discursive features characterizing the sections of sustainability reports referring to remote working during COVID-19. An attempt will be made to address the following research questions: How was the discourse promoting remote working constructed to project a positive company image? How was information organized and delivered? Which discursive strategies were put in place to appeal to internal and external stakeholders? Using both a qualitative and a quantitative approach, this paper will apply discursive-analytical tools to the investigation of a dataset of sustainability reports issued by Italian companies in 2020, in order to contribute to existing research into corporate communication.


Bargiela-Chiappini, Barbara (ed.). 2009. The Handbook of Business Discourse. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Breeze, Ruth. 2013. Corporate Discourse. London: Bloomsbury.

Carroll, Craig E (ed.). 2015. The Handbook of Communication and Corporate Reputation. West Sussex: Wiley and Sons.

Catenaccio, Paola. 2012. Understanding CSR Discourse. Insights from Linguistics and Discourse Analysis. Milan: Arcipelago.

Molino Alessandra. 2019. Corporate identity and its variation over time: A corpus-assisted study of self-presentation strategies in Vodafone’s Sustainability Reports. In V. Wiegand & M. Mahlberg (eds), Corpus Linguistics, Contexts and Culture (75-107). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

118 | Amit Turgeman

"Thank you, Mr. President!": Expressions of Gratitude in International Relations

Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness in acknowledgement of benefiting from an exchange. It is manifested through an expression of gratitude or thanking, which are considered as equivalent in their function (Froh, (2008). Expressions of gratitude have been studied in many fields across disciplines, such as psychology, philosophy, pragmatics, and sociology. Studies pointed to their importance in various human activities, including socializing children into the norms of communication, signaling warmth and solidarity, and maintaining a polite and civil atmosphere (Einstein & Bodman, 1986).

Despite their significance, expressions of gratitude received only scant attention in the fields of diplomacy and IR. This lack in research is puzzling for at least two reasons: first, the goals of expressions of gratitude coincide with the general aim of diplomacy, namely, to enhance positive relations between groups and to avoid unnecessary and unwanted conflict (Sharp, 1999). Second, expressions of gratitude are not only important but also prevalent in diplomacy. A recent study on political amicable communication found expressions of gratitude to be the second most frequent speech act in diplomacy (Kampf et al., 2019). This paper aims to better understand the role of gratitude in diplomacy and IR. It addresses the following questions: what political leaders and states express gratitude about? What are the functions of gratitude in diplomacy? And when and why do expressions of gratitude fail to achieve their ends?

Methodologically, this research includes both quantitative and qualitative analysis. The quantitative analysis aims to find what political leaders and states express gratitude about. To answer this question, 300 expressions of gratitude made by a variety of states representatives were collected from different sources (social media, official statements, and the news media) between 2013 and 2021. All cases were coded according to Coulmas' (1986) classification of the object of gratitude.

The qualitative analysis further aims to identify what are the functions of expressions of gratitude in diplomacy and to find when do they fail. This stage included content analysis of the objects of gratitude and their relations to the identities and roles of the addresser and addressee. Moreover, it included discourse analysis of two recent (2021) case studies in which political criticism followed an expression of gratitude: Trump's expression toward Putin for medical supplies that turned out to be purchased by the US, and Israel's gratitude ad to states that assisted on wildfires in Jerusalem area, which belittled Palestinian aid.

Initial findings show that diplomatic gratitude is mostly personal and follows non-material benefits such as warm welcoming, good friendship and active support. Failure in performance of gratitude is seen when the addressee does not deserve the gratitude or when the addresser minimizes the expression. The Conclusion discusses the role of gratitude in diplomatic discourse and the benefits in studying diplomatic speech acts.


Coulmas F. (ed.), (1981). Conversational routine: Explanations in standardized communication situations and prepatterned speech. The Hague: Mouton.

Einstein M., Bodman J. (1986). 'I very appreciate': Expressions of gratitude by native and non-native speakers of American English. Applied Linguistics 7: 167-185.

Froh J.J., Sefick W.J. & Emmons R.A. (2008). Counting blessings in early adolescents: An experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being. Journal of School Psychology, 46(2), 213-233.

Kampf, Z., Aldar, L., Danziger R. & Schreiber M. (2019). The pragmatics of amicable interstate communication. Intercultural Pragmatics 16(2): 123-151.

Sharp, P. (1999). For diplomacy: Representation and the study of international relations. International Studies Review 11: 33-57.

202 | Reka Tamassy, Zsuzsanna Gering, Gabor Kiraly, Reka Plugor, & Marton Rakovics

Discursive portrayal of students in top ranked Business Schools

In this paper we analyse how university students are discursively constructed and portrayed by top 100 ranked Business Schools through their websites.

Starting from an organisational discourse perspective our aim was to understand how universities as organisations produce texts in order to construct themselves and convey specific messages about themselves (e.g. Fairclough 2015; Grant et al. 2004). Leaning on the notion that organisations are rooted in structured collection of texts, we theorize that organisational discourses define the norms and ideas framing how social actors make sense of and act in organisational realities (Phillips–Lawrence–Hardy 2004: 638). In our case, we focus on the external communication of business schools and attempt to understand how these organisations construct themselves in relation to one of their main stakeholder groups, namely, the students.

This is closely connected to the ‘ideal student’ research and the concept of ‘imagined identity’ (De Ruyter – Conroy 2002; Wong – Chiu 2020). Higher education institutions (at least partly) legitimize themselves by claims of what students will be able to do at the organisation, and in turn in their (working) lives. Furthermore, we employed the concept of agency to understand ‘who does what with whom’ in relation to students. As it was mentioned, higher education institutions legitimize and construct themselves through describing the actions and transformations of which students are either the subjects or the objects. Given the future-oriented nature of these actions and transformations we draw on a temporally sensitive understanding of agency elaborated by Emirbayer and Mische (1998).

On the basis of this three-legged theoretical framework and the previous research findings of the field, our research questions were the following:

RQ1: Are there distinctive ways of language use on the websites of the highly ranked business schools?

RQ2: How are students, with particular attention to their agency, discursively constructed and portrayed on top ranked business schools’ websites?

In order to answer these questions, we collected the introductory texts from the top 100 business schools’ webpages based on Times Higher Education 2019 theme-specific list. We applied a mixed methodological approach to analyse the data. First, we selected the student-related sentences from the text. Then we applied quantitative topic modelling (LDA), which we built on the verbs used in the selected texts, so that we were able to focus on communicated actions (agency). During the LDA process a 6-topic model crystallized, which provided adequate difference between the groups, but sufficient homogeneity within the groups of texts. Lastly, we analysed qualitatively the texts of the 6 groups focusing on the students’ active or passive role, the actions connected to them and the way the institutions described their role and their goals.

As a result of our mixed methods analysis, we were able to identify 6 discursive repertoires that provide different descriptions about the role of business schools as well as their ideal students. We found differences not only in the active or passive portrayal of students, but also in the representation of learning as merely a tool for a successful life or a goal in itself. The discursive construction of students showed a great variety as well, from academically perfectionist, through hard-working but business success oriented to moral self-developing identities/roles.

279 | Bernadette Hofer-Bonfim

Difference and normativity in corporate Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) discourse - A comparison of corporate diversity metrics across languages

Commonly, diversity is constructed as a group phenomenon of employees belonging to the same category and certain demographic characteristics and identity attributes are assumed constitutive of a human beings’ essence (Zanoni and Janssens, 2004). Researchers in the field of Intersectional and Critical Diversity Studies have started to problematize the uniform and essentializing rhetoric on identity put forward in mainstream Diversity Management Studies and corporate diversity management (e.g., Bendl, 2009; Harrison and Klein 2007; Romani et al 2019; Zanoni and Janssens, 2004). Diversity dimensions seem to be understood as fixed and underlying constructions of difference are rarely questioned (Bendl 2009).

The way in which the term “diversity” circulates in corporate contexts, has an effect on how diversity commitment is understood and pursued (Ahmed 2007). The same is true for conceptualization of difference within corporate discourses on D&I. It is therefore pivotal to analyze how corporate diversity discourses conceptualize difference and which aspects of identity are in the focus of corporate D&I discourses. This also helps us to problematize how these discourses might construct an unmarked norm.

Pasztor (2019) has shown that analytical images such as Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity metrics have become a key aspect within “diversity rhetoric”. These metrics focus on relative numbers of employees regarding specific identity attributes (Pasztor, 2019, p.468). Given their key role within diversity disclosure as well as the lack of attention, that has so far considered these elements in D&I discourse, this research shines spotlight on diversity metrics in corporate non-financial disclosure. To understand conceptualizations of diversity across languages, the analysis will include D&I disclosure published across several countries. The following research questions are in the center of analysis: Which identity attributes are most frequently illustrated in diversity-related tables and texts metrically and thereby constructed as eligible within corporate contexts? To what extent do conceptualizations of difference and diversity labels differ in D&I discourses put forward in corporate non-financial disclosure in Brazilian Portuguese, Italian and American English?

The study employs a corpus-based discourse analytical perspective to compare diversity metrics in non-financial disclosure published by major banks in Italy, Brazil and the US. A contrastive, corpus-based approach helps to uncover patterns, meanings and perspectives that might be hidden when looking at discourses individually.


Ahmed, S. (2007). The language of diversity. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30(2), 235–256.

Bendl, R. (n.d.). Queer theory and diversity management: Reading codes of conduct from a queer perspective. 15.

Harrison, D. A., & Klein, K. J. (2007). What’s the Difference? Diversity Constructs as Separation, Variety, or Disparity in Organizations. The Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1199–1228.

Klein, K. J., & Harrison, D. A. (2007). On the Diversity of Diversity: Tidy Logic, Messier Realities. Academy of Management Perspectives, 21(4), 26–33.

Pasztor, S. K. (2019). Exploring the Framing of Diversity Rhetoric in “Top-Rated in Diversity” Organizations. International Journal of Business Communication, 56(4), 455–475.

Romani, L., Zanoni, P., & Holck, L. (2021). Radicalizing diversity (research): Time to resume talking about class. Gender, Work & Organization, 28(1), 8–23.

Zanoni, P., & Janssens, M. (2004). Deconstructing Difference: The Rhetoric of Human Resource Managers’ Diversity Discourses. Organization Studies, 25(1), 55–74.

307 | Katharina Gallant

Indigenous discourse for peaceful coexistence: Engaging in intercultural polylog for tackling global challenges

In heterogeneous societies in a globalized world, an important identifier of conflicts can be the ethnic identity of the conflict parties, for instance, in the case of indigenous peoples. Indigenous people are frequently subject to severe marginalization as reflected in high scores of political and economic discrimination.1 As their philosophy and way of life do not necessarily abide by the norms of the dominant mainstream culture, their theoretical and practical contributions to successful conflict transformation tend to go unrecognized. While inspiring publications on indigenous methods of conflict transformation have been published in the last five years, these are often illustrative case studies applying heterogeneous definitions and metrics or they focus on a specific geopolitical and social context such that discussions with a broader scope are scarce.

Individual and national as well as many multinational traditions of thought and action have been toothless addressing global challenges such as those defined by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. The post-development paradigm has long demanded that the hegemonic approach to ‘development’ on the part of the global north be abandoned.

This contribution addresses SDG 16 “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions” and elaborates on how indigenous knowledge can contribute to fostering this goal. It therefore pursues a sociology of knowledge approach to discourse (SKAD),2 which comprises the theoretical interest in power and discourse while emphasizing the social character of knowledge construction. Of core importance is also the concept of interculturality as promoted by liberation theologians Estermann3 and Fornet-Betancourt.4 Interculturality presupposes relations on eye level between two or more cultures with the purpose of reciprocally inspiring each other for the greater good of all such that its polylogic character can be linked to epistemic processes on the theoretical level, and educational settings on the practical level.

As concepts and means of a peaceful coexistence are inherent to all communities, there is a myriad of approaches of interest. While they are culture-specific to the respective indigenous peoples, this contribution analyzes indigenous approaches to conflict transformation across all inhabited continents. The SKAD approach thereby allows for a systematization of common features of indigenous means of conflict transformation resulting in a theoretic discourse on the subject. This implies both an advantage and a caveat as the synthesized discourse will abide the phrasing and norms of the so-called Western discourse but will as such no longer be the authentic expression of an indigenous discourse due to its synthetic form. This contribution therefore concludes on a note of how global goals like SDG 16 can be fostered through the collaboration of indigenous peoples, NGOs, academia, politics, and the broader public, thus bringing together the different traditions of thought in an intercultural polylog.

1 Minorities at Risk Project. Minorities at Risk Dataset. College Park, MD: Center for International Development and Conflict Management, 2009. [06.01.2020].

2 Keller, R. Analysing Discourse: An approach drom the sociology of knowledge. Forum: Qualitative Social Research 6/3/2005, Art. 32. [21.01.2021].

3 Estermann, J. Interculturalidad: Vivir la diversidad. La Paz: ISEAT, 2010.

4 Fornet-Betancourt, R. Lo intercultural: El problema de su definición. Fundación Cidob, 157-160. [21.01.2022].