Title: Counter-narration with numbers: understanding the interplay of words and numerals in fiscal storytelling

Authors: Robert P. Gephart Jr.

Addresses: Strategic Management and Organization, University of Alberta School of Business, 4-30J Business Building, Alberta T6G 2R6, Canada

Abstract: This paper addresses how numbers are given meaning in and through storytelling. It uses narrative-rhetorical analysis to uncover sensemaking practices used to construct meaning for quantitative, financial and temporal numbers in texts and finds that numbers are important and prevalent in organisational storytelling. Numbers are given meaning by artful association with words and other numbers. The paper contributes to the literature on counter-narratives by showing the importance of numbers and quantification in counter-narrative storytelling, identifying limitations of past storytelling literature that has viewed stories and numbers as separate elements of narration, and outlining an approach to understanding the role of numbers in storytelling. The paper then shows that numbers and stories are interdependent features of narration that work together to make numbers meaningful features of persuasive of storytelling. It concludes by arguing that the management of the meaning of numbers is a key task for managers.

Keywords: budgeting; counternarratives; ethnostatistics; interpretive research; narratives; meaning of numbers; qualimetrics; rhetorical analysis; sensemaking; fiscal storytelling.

DOI: 10.1504/EJCCM.2016.081211

European Journal of Cross-Cultural Competence and Management, 2016 Vol.4 No.1, pp.21 - 40

Received: 21 Sep 2015
Accepted: 25 Mar 2016

Published online: 28 Dec 2016 *

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