Abstract: 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 emerges.
- audit society
- community supported agriculture
- marketing communications