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Offshoring language-sensitive services: a case study

Anne Kari Bjørge (Department of Professional and Intercultural Communication, NHH Norwegian School of Economics, Bergen, Norway)
Sunniva Whittaker (Department of Professional and Intercultural Communication, NHH Norwegian School of Economics, Bergen, Norway)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Article publication date: 12 October 2018

Issue publication date: 4 February 2019

330

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on corporate communication issues that arise when a company offshores language-sensitive services to a country which does not have a workforce with the required language skills. It explores the consequences of adopting a total immersion policy and annual testing regime to build and maintain linguistic competence among the workforce, with regard to motivation, challenges and coping strategies.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach adopted was semi-structured interviews with management and employee representatives, interviewed separately. The interviews were transcribed and submitted to content analysis, supported by relevant company information.

Findings

The company’s language policy has generated a user environment where language proficiency is developed in corporate interaction, and where the workforce is motivated by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Strategic decisions relating to language policy need to take the workforce’s input into account to discuss the testing regime with a view to test content and relevance.

Research limitations/implications

The findings relate to a limited material of 6 interviews with 14 interviewees in total.

Practical implications

The paper focusses on how to strike a balance between developing the skills needed to perform job tasks and preparing for new more complex tasks without demotivating the workforce. The conclusion sets out managerial implications.

Social implications

The paper contributes to understanding the dynamics of working in a multilingual context.

Originality/value

To the authors’ knowledge the specificities of offshoring of language-sensitive services with regard to motivation and coping strategies have not been explored previously. The fact that the services in question have to be carried out in a minor language and that a total immersion strategy has been adopted also represents something new.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the funding received from The Research Council of Norway (BIA programme). The project is part of Cross-Border Value Creation (FOCUS, NHH). The authors would like to thank the reviewers for their input, particularly for their suggestions concerning the passage on managerial implications in the Conclusion.

Citation

Bjørge, A.K. and Whittaker, S. (2019), "Offshoring language-sensitive services: a case study", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 79-95. https://doi.org/10.1108/CCIJ-04-2018-0040

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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