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Expanding financial communication: Investor relations, crowdfunding, and democracy in the time of fintech

This thesis studied financial communication in the context of a globalised, technologized, and financialised world. It arose from two seemingly opposite trends in practice and in academia. In practice, not only are technology and finance becoming more pervasive on their own, they are also merging as fintech, which is further disrupting financial and social practices. In academia, financial communication, more commonly, if incorrectly, known as investor relations, does not connect with these realities. While the trends in practice hold the promise of making profound impacts in democratising finance and promoting egalitarianism, their neglect in academia not only does a disservice to the practice but also threatens to further segregate and lower the poor reputation of public relations, which is the umbrella discipline that contains financial communication. Accordingly, the thesis attempted to bring financial communication closer to practice and to make an original contribution to knowledge by examining financial communication in the context of fintech. Specifically, it sought answers to the following two research questions: (1) What is the current state of academic research on investor relations and financial communication? and (2) In what ways could investor relations and financial communication integrate crowdfunding to their practice and research to further democratise finance and contribute to a fully functioning society? The thesis with publication includes four publications – three published journal articles and one book chapter (in press) – and each arose from a research project relevant to the overall theme. These projects identified how financial communication continues to be academically insular and disconnected from technology. Their findings also suggested how individually and in concert, by incorporating fintech and crowdfunding, financial communication can open up ways that benefit both practice and research. The thesis also found evidence that crowdfunding has the potential to improve financial democracy across the globe. For it to harness that potential, however, the thesis proposes that financial communicators become advocates for increasing financial literacy and inclusiveness for individuals and for the greater good of the society. The function should not only provide tangible results for businesses but also expand and re-focus on building communities and on re-balancing power. The thesis argues that the online environment of crowdfunding and fintech with new players and rules needs researchers to change. The change means researchers need to re-examine the nature, characteristics, scope and impact of communication, to look outside of their own discipline to add resources, to diversify their approaches, and to go beyond the traditional organisation-centric orientation of investor relations and public relations. In so doing so, financial communication will also be advancing the movement for improving the academic and social reputation of public relations. The thesis concludes that what financial communication has not been able to accomplish today can also serve as a fertile ground for future research directions.
Type of thesis
Doan, M. A. (2018). Expanding financial communication: Investor relations, crowdfunding, and democracy in the time of fintech (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11894
The University of Waikato
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