Narrative Transparency

Eric Arnould, Melea Press

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In this paper, we look at how alternative marketing organisations
communicate transparency in a climate of generalised risk and scepticism.
We contrast the traditional numeric approach to transparency, which involves
auditing and third-party certifications; with an alternative approach that we call
narrative transparency. Central to narrative transparency is an emphasis on
stake-holder dialogue and an invitation to stake-holders to play the role of
auditor. This article illustrates how alternative marketing organisations
engage in rhetorical tactics central to a narrative approach, to communicate
transparency to their stakeholders. These rhetorical tactics include persona,
allegory, consumer sovereignty and enlightenment. Community supported
agriculture programmes from across the United States are the context for
this study. Findings enrich discussions about best practices for transparency
and communications. The central contribution is identification of a narrative
approach to transparency, the rhetorical techniques such an approach employs,
and an explanation of why an alternative approach to transparency reporting
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1353-1376
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Marketing Management
Issue number13-14
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • audit society
  • community supported agriculture
  • marketing communications
  • rhetoric
  • transparency
  • narrative

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