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Annual Reports: A Tool for Businesses, Investors, and Educators
Geraldine E. Hynes
Sam Houston State University, USA
Volume 2: 2009, pp. 81-96; ABSTRACT
The annual report ostensibly serves a simple purpose in American business – to evaluate the financial performance of the company during the previous year. However, over its seventy-year history, the annual report has taken on more complex functions. Today it is an essential communication tool for improving a company's public relations, credibility, and investor relations, as well as for financial disclosure. This paper describes the evolution of the corporate annual report in the U.S. and the multiple functions it currently performs. In addition, the paper suggests that annual reports are useful in the business communication classroom as a tool for improving students' writing. As an illustration, a classroom exercise using annual report excerpts is described. Finally, the paper calls for research that seeks to clarify the relationship between the writing quality and the effectiveness of annual reports in achieving their goals.