Investment risk as vulnerability: The context of repairing trust in CEO public communication

Terhi Chakhovich, Johanna Moisander, Marja-Liisa Kuronen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperScientificpeer-review


Trust has been perceived as important in the financial markets. The business of companies involves risk by nature, and investors assume the existence of such risk, even sometimes aim for risk, while such risk is being evaded in executive communication. We treat investors as trustors, vulnerable to investment risk, and company CEOs as trustees. Our context is CEO public communication in formal CEO statements. We draw on Levinas (1985, 1987, 1995) and build a theoretical perspective on trust repair within which discursively managed risk is a relational construct between CEOs and the implied readers of CEO statements, i.e., investors here. We find two strategies by CEOs: “vulnerability destruction”, a denial of investor risk, and “vulnerability management”, the careful delineation of investor risk. While the purpose of the first strategy is to decrease apparent investor vulnerability, the purpose of the second is to make vulnerability that cannot be decreased to feel more bearable by investors. We thus show how investor vulnerability is decreased but also carefully celebrated. Trust is valorized as not only an embodiment of “rational” investment decisions but as a construct to connect investors and CEOs as human beings, producing hubris on a “togetherness” in the financial markets. This is to allow forgiveness from investors and the shielding of individual CEOs from excessive personal consequences in case of failure, but also to produce financial markets discursively as less vulnerable overall and as a playing field of supreme actors.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2020
MoE publication typeNot Eligible
EventCritical Finance Studies Conference - Virtual, Online
Duration: 27 Aug 202028 Aug 2020
Conference number: 12


ConferenceCritical Finance Studies Conference
CityVirtual, Online


  • Risk
  • Vulnerability
  • Trust


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