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Article
Publication date: 3 November 2020

Ivan Olav Vulchanov

The purpose of this conceptual literature review is to investigate how language factors have been studied in the expatriate literature, and how cross-fertilisation with…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this conceptual literature review is to investigate how language factors have been studied in the expatriate literature, and how cross-fertilisation with the broader language-sensitive international business and management field may facilitate integrated research of language in global work.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is based on a thematic review of expatriate research and international business and management literature. The findings are structured through Reiche et al.'s (2019) three-dimensional conceptualisation of global work, after which two frameworks are developed to conceptualise how language connects the three dimensions – actors, structures and processes.

Findings

The literature review demonstrates that language-related topics are yet to gain status in the expatriate tradition, and the majority of studies, which do consider linguistic factors appear largely dissociated from the growing community of language research in the broader international management and international business fields. However, once consolidated, the literature reveals that language is present in all dimensions of global work. A processual view of corporate language management highlights the central role of human resource management (HRM), while a dynamic multi-level perspective indicates that language may form bidirectional relationships between the three dimensions of global work.

Originality/value

Due to the segmentation between language-sensitive research in the expatriate and international business/management traditions, few studies have considered the HRM implications of global mobility and the multifaceted nature of language at work. This conceptual literature review brings both perspectives together for a more contextualised and holistic view of language in international workforces.

Details

Journal of Global Mobility: The Home of Expatriate Management Research, vol. 8 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-8799

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2016

Guro Refsum Sanden

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the consequences of globalisation in the area of corporate communication, and investigate how language may be managed as a…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the consequences of globalisation in the area of corporate communication, and investigate how language may be managed as a strategic resource.

Design/methodology/approach

A review of previous studies on the effects of globalisation on corporate communication and the implications of language management initiatives in international business.

Findings

Efficient language management can turn language into a strategic resource. Language needs analyses, i.e. linguistic auditing/language check-ups, can be used to determine the language situation of a company. Language policies and/or strategies can be used to regulate a company’s internal modes of communication. Language management tools can be deployed to address existing and expected language needs. Continuous feedback from the front line ensures strategic learning and reduces the risk of suboptimal outcomes.

Originality/value

Offers a review of the relevant literature and provides a simple four-step model to make language a more important priority on the corporate agenda.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 21 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2006

Dirk Maclean

The purpose of this article is to reassert the status of language as a topic of major interest to researchers in the light of the rise of the transnational corporation.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to reassert the status of language as a topic of major interest to researchers in the light of the rise of the transnational corporation.

Design/methodology/approach

This article reviews recent literature and case study evidence in order to track an important shift taking place in the status of language management.

Findings

The emergence of the transnational corporation transforms the nature and significance of language from a minor issue into one that impacts on a company's core competencies.

Research limitations/implications

The literature remains sparse and case studies limited in number. In depth investigation into the language management practices of transnational corporations is called for in order to test the hypotheses of this paper.

Practical implications

Language will generate greater interest as a research topic as the transnational model is implemented, and more sophisticated language management practices will emerge as a result, with the promise of delivering a competitive advantage.

Originality/value

The inter‐relationship between language management and the transnational model of global corporations has not been asserted in the literature up to this point.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 44 no. 10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 2003

David Collins

Offers a response to a discussion of the language of change, which appeared in an earlier issue of JOCM (Vol. 14, 2001).While applauding any attempt to develop an…

Abstract

Offers a response to a discussion of the language of change, which appeared in an earlier issue of JOCM (Vol. 14, 2001).While applauding any attempt to develop an appreciation of the fluidity of the processes and politics of organizational change offers a critical response to the account of the language of change, which was prepared by Butcher and Atkinson. This critical response argues that Butcher and Atkinson's attempt to adjust and correct the language of change produces a rather conservative modelling of both management and organizational dynamics. Taking issue with this analysis argues that: Butcher and Atkinson continue to impoverish our understanding of organizational dynamics because they mix (and muddle) opposing and contradictory accounts of language in an attempt to refine an essentially managerialist change agenda; and their account of organizational dynamics produces a fixed and overly‐stabilized appreciation of change, which restricts and diminishes our understanding of the processes of change.

Details

Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 16 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 2006

Reva Berman Brown

The purpose of this paper is to describe linkages between the techniques of poetical expression and the language used by scholars to communicate management practice.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe linkages between the techniques of poetical expression and the language used by scholars to communicate management practice.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach is to consider the stylistic perspective of the language used for management theorising or research, viewing the documents produced by management researchers as communicating devices and cultural products which contribute to the creation or construction of the reality that they seek to describe and analyse.

Findings

The paper uncovers the poetic aspects buried – often deeply – in the language of management studies through which the concepts of, and ideas about, management are expressed.

Originality/value

The links between ways of saying usually considered to be in opposition are made known, and enjoyed.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 44 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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Article
Publication date: 8 February 2008

Anne‐Wil Harzing and Alan J. Feely

This paper intends to open up the debate on the influence of language on the way multinational companies manage their subsidiary operations.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper intends to open up the debate on the influence of language on the way multinational companies manage their subsidiary operations.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors explain the importance of the field and expose a dearth of prior research. Subsequently, they define the “language barrier” and elaborate on the causes underlying this barrier, drawing on social identity theory.

Findings

The authors we propose an integrative model that consists of two coupled vicious cycles: the communications cycle – composed of the eight aspects of the language barrier – and the management cycle.

Research limitations/implications

This contribution to an otherwise ignored field of business study should be considered only a first step in opening up a new research agenda. Specialists in each of the fields touched upon are invited to make a contribution to the debate.

Practical implications

The management cycle suggests implications of the language barrier for various aspects of the HQ‐subsidiary relationship: strategic decision‐making, organization and personnel selection, global integration strategies, and autonomy and control procedures.

Originality/value

This paper uses socio‐linguistic theory to define and elaborate on the construct of the language barrier, a construct which is believed will be helpful in furthering research on the impact of language‐difference on multinational management.

Details

Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, vol. 15 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1352-7606

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2003

Alan J. Feely and Anne‐Wil Harzing

The importance of language management in multinational companies has never been greater than today. Multinationals are becoming ever more conscious of the importance of…

Abstract

The importance of language management in multinational companies has never been greater than today. Multinationals are becoming ever more conscious of the importance of global coordination as a source of competitive advantage, and language remains the ultimate barrier to aspirations of international harmonisation. The article reviews the solutions open to multinational companies in term of language management. Before that, however, it discusses the aforementioned trend to globalisation outlines the dimensions of the language barrier and illustrates its consequences.

Details

Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, vol. 10 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1352-7606

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Article
Publication date: 14 August 2007

Jakob Lauring

Managing people in a multinational corporation most often means, communicating across cultural as well as linguistic boundaries. Through the study of Danish expatriates in…

Abstract

Purpose

Managing people in a multinational corporation most often means, communicating across cultural as well as linguistic boundaries. Through the study of Danish expatriates in Saudi Arabia this paper sets out to investigate the use of language as related to ethnicity and group formation.

Design/methodology/approach

Investigating the use of language in international settings, an ethnographic fieldwork methodology relying on longitudinal participant observations and semi‐structured interviews is applied.

Findings

The relation between language usage and ethnicity is discussed with regard to cross‐cultural management. Based on a case of Danish expatriates, language can be identified as linked to social strategies of inclusion and exclusion.

Practical implications

The analysis indicates that language use should be conceived as a dynamic process linked to social strategies facilitating categorization of groups in the struggle for resources and recognition. It is recommended that the character of language as linked to social strategies is taken into account in international business. Ignoring the important role of language in multinational corporations may lead to loss of resources and hindrances to organizational and managerial development due to the lack of communication and knowledge sharing.

Originality/value

By applying a process‐oriented theoretical perspective combined with an iterative data collection, new insights into the social dynamics of language use in multinational corporations are provided.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 12 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 1979

MALCOLM P. ATKINSON

A survey of current work on database systems is presented. The area is divided into three main sectors: data models, data languages and support for database operations…

Abstract

A survey of current work on database systems is presented. The area is divided into three main sectors: data models, data languages and support for database operations. Data models are presented as the link between the database and the real world. Languages range from formal algebraic languages to attempts to use a dialogue in English to formulate queries. The support includes hardware for content addressing, database machines and software techniques for optimizing and evaluating group expressions. Mathematical models are used to organize this support. Throughout there is a tutorial component and evaluation, which in both cases is related to the application of database ideas to documentation.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 35 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

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Book part
Publication date: 25 October 2014

Rebecca Piekkari and Susanne Tietze

In this chapter, we align two approaches on the multinational enterprise (MNE), that is, research on languages and international business, and micropolitics, in order to…

Abstract

Purpose

In this chapter, we align two approaches on the multinational enterprise (MNE), that is, research on languages and international business, and micropolitics, in order to establish the language-based underpinnings of micropolitical behavior in the MNE.

Design/methodology/approach

This theoretical chapter departs from a social, relational perspective on power relationships in the MNE. Power relationships are constituted in multilingual encounters between different language users.

Findings

Our analysis builds on the assumption that the mandated corporate language in the MNE, which often is English, results in a language hierarchy. This hierarchy creates inequality and tension between the languages in use in the MNE. However, language agents, that is, headquarters, foreign subsidiaries, teams, managers, and employees can – individually or collectively – change, challenge, and disrupt this hierarchical order. Their micropolitical behavior is essential for action as it redraws organizational structure, alters the degree of foreign subsidiary autonomy and control, redefines the privileged and the disadvantaged groups in the MNE, and reinforces subgroup formation and dynamics in multilingual teams.

Research implications

We highlight the important role played by language agents who sit at the interstices of organizational networks in the MNE. The interplay between their actions and motivations and their historical and situational contexts represents an underexplored and undertheorized area of study.

Practical implications

Senior managers in MNEs are frequently very competent or native users of the English language. Appreciating the continued existence of various languages has implications for how different MNE units can effectively connect and operate as an overall entity.

Originality/value

This chapter highlights the languages-based mechanisms that underpin power relationships in the MNE.

Details

Multinational Enterprises, Markets and Institutional Diversity
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-421-4

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