A Pragmatic Study of Image Restoration via Corporate Apology in Chinese Internet Corporations

  •  Zhanghong Xu    
  •  Alan Yan    


With the booming of Chinese internet corporations, various wrongdoings have been frequently exposed to the public, which damages their corporate image. To face the challenge, these companies usually resort to apologies for image restoration. This study investigates how apology strategies are employed by Chinese internet corporations to restore image in the event of wrongdoings. Based on a self-built corpus and by means of textual analysis, we identified different apology strategies characterized by various linguistic features. The results show that “Illocutionary Force Indicating Devices (IFIDs)” and “damage repair” are two of the most frequently used move types which are normally marked by such key linguistic features as personal pronouns, modal verbs, performative verbs and intensifiers. It is also found that IFIDs, “giving account” and “admitting mistakes”, “offering repair” and “inviting further interaction” are often incorporated together to show the company’s sincere apologetic stance which contributes to the ultimate goal --- rebuilding corporate image and regaining the public’s trust. However, direct expressions of “asking for forgiveness” are seldom found in apologies crafted by Chinese internet corporations. This study on apologies in the domain of internet corporations is believed to shed light on research on corporate apology in particular and corporate image restoration in general.

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