Mind your language!: role of language in strategic partnerships and post-merger integration

Ashish Malik (Faculty of Business and Law, Newcastle Business School, University of Newcastle, Ourimbah, Australia)
Ralf Bebenroth (Research Institute for Economics and Business Administration, Kobe Daigaku Keizai Keiei Kenkyujo, Kobe, Japan)

Journal of Global Operations and Strategic Sourcing

ISSN: 2398-5364

Publication date: 18 June 2018



This paper aims to identify the role of language in international business context, especially in a post-merger integration (PMI) process, and to develop a framework for language strategies in a PMI context.


Based on the authors’ review and building on earlier works, this paper develops a conceptual model regarding the use of language in different PMI scenarios and identifies the key resource mix that may be suited for an effective deployment of language strategies.


The authors find that the use of a language at target firms depends on the degrees of strategic interdependence and organizational autonomy. They classify different constellations of targets in a PMI context and propose the most appropriate language strategies for different classification of PMI firms.

Research limitations/implications

The authors develop five testable future research propositions based on our conceptual model. The paper is not without its limitations. The authors’ propositions need to be tested in future studies. It may be sometimes difficult to collect data based on all the four segments of firms using a quantitative design. It is also challenging to investigate about the language used at the target firms using quantitative designs.

Practical implications

The authors’ model has several practical implications for the managers. Bidder firm’s managers can decide the use of appropriate language depending on their acquisition strategy. It is very likely that target managers have to change the language following the acquisition, and because of this change, influence on their routines will be significant. This issue becomes most important if both firms do not speak the common corporate language – English language. The authors bring ideas for a best fit, which are applicable not just for merger and acquisition but also for other strategic sourcing areas such as outsourcing strategies.

Social implications

There are several negative emotions that are invoked through language. Language is also power laden and affects social structure and group dynamics at work. By addressing the use of appropriate language strategies, people can potentially avoid the dark side of language.


The authors present testable propositions for future research in a PMI context.



Malik, A. and Bebenroth, R. (2018), "Mind your language!: role of language in strategic partnerships and post-merger integration", Journal of Global Operations and Strategic Sourcing, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 202-223. https://doi.org/10.1108/JGOSS-05-2017-0011



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