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Yo, Clio! Can historiography save marketing scholarship?

Stephen Brown (Ulster Business School, University of Ulster, Newtownabbey, UK)

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing

ISSN: 1755-750X

Article publication date: 8 November 2011




Felicitous writing is enormously important. However, the art of writing well is rarely addressed by marketing scholars. This paper seeks to argue that the marketing academy has much to learn from historiography, a sub‐discipline devoted to the explication of historical writing.


Although it is primarily predicated on published works, this paper is not a conventional literature review. It relies, rather, on the classic historical method of “compare and contrast”. It considers parallels between the paired disciplines yet notes where marketing and history diverge in relation to literary styles and scientific aspirations.


It is concluded that marketing writing could benefit from greater emphasis on “character” and “storytelling”. These might help humanise a mode of academic communication that is becoming increasingly abstruse and ever‐more unappealing to its readership.

Research implications

If its argument is accepted by the academic community – and, more importantly, acted upon – this paper should transform the writing of marketing. Although the academic reward systems and power structures of marketing make revolutionary change unlikely, a “scholarly spring” is not inconceivable.


The paper's originality rests in the observation that originality is unnecessary. All of the literary‐cum‐stylistic issues raised in this paper have already been tackled by professional historians. Whether marketers are willing to learn from their historical brethren remains to be seen.



Brown, S. (2011), "Yo, Clio! Can historiography save marketing scholarship?", Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Vol. 3 No. 4, pp. 449-468.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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