Helen Spencer-Oatey

Helen Spencer-Oatey
The University of Warwick · Centre for Applied Linguistics

BA, MEd, PhD

About

114
Publications
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4,159
Citations

Publications

Publications (114)
Article
This article investigates the in-situ relations that interlocutors co-construct during troubles talk in a working team, with a focus on talk centred around negative issues or experiences that speakers do not blame or attribute to others present. Research in various fields has pointed to the important role that troubles talk plays in the constructio...
Research
Full-text available
‘Rapport’ is an extremely slippery concept – difficult to pin down, let alone translate into other languages. Yet it is very widely used in English publications in different fields, including in healthcare, marketing & sales, and investigative interviewing, and is typically regarded as extremely important for interactional ‘success’. However, the v...
Research
Full-text available
This ‘core concept’ paper is a compilation of quotations from many different authors who have written about culture. It is organised to provide a framework for understanding and exploring the topic from an intercultural perspective. It covers the following aspects: 1. Definitions of culture 2. Key characteristics of culture (14 of them!) 3. Inade...
Article
Full-text available
International students form an important element of most universities’ internationalisation strategies, especially for research and the recruitment of high calibre PhD students (PGRs). Despite the numerous studies of PGRs’ post-arrival experiences, there is a major dearth of research into their pre-arrival, application experiences. Given the worldw...
Presentation
Full-text available
Language teaching involves a commitment to, and interest in, intercultural communication. In providing language learning instruction, practitioners are not merely sharing linguistic knowledge and skills in a one-directional manner, but are continuously negotiating and learning from their students’ dynamic experiences, repertoires, and identities. A...
Chapter
There is increasing awareness of the importance of fostering ‘global competencies’ among (inter alia) university graduates. For example, the British Government’s March 2019 International and Education Strategy (Department for Education & Department for International Trade, 2019, p. 24) refers to the need to “create a new generation of globally mobi...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report focuses on how what we learn, how we learn, and where we learn will change in the future. Specialists contributed to the focus group from the fields of intercultural, inclusion, diversity, migration, human resources, international management, pedagogy, didactics, online training, and peace education.
Book
It is increasingly important in our globalised world for people to successfully manage interpersonal relationships. This is the first book to tackle this vital topic, by taking an interdisciplinary approach to exploring the process of relating across cultures. Drawing together key concepts from politeness theory, intercultural communication, and cr...
Article
This paper analyses postings made by student applicants on Korean online communities about how best to handle interactions with potential future PhD supervisors at UK universities. The questions they posed reveal the lack of relevant contextual information they experienced, especially around the rights and obligations of supervisors. This paper thu...
Chapter
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Article
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This article examines the ways in which professionals from different countries handle first encounters when they wish to initiate and establish business/professional relations. The majority of research on business relations in intercultural contexts has so far focused on misunderstandings, face threats, and conflict. There has been comparatively li...
Article
This article presents a new approach for measuring inter-nationalisation that has been used by the Coimbra network of European universities for benchmarking purposes. Existing measures of internationalisation focus on struc-tural/demographic-type criteria, such as the proportion of international students and international staff. Yet such measures d...
Chapter
This chapter provides an overview of key concepts and frameworks relating to global leadership. Spencer-Oatey starts by considering a range of definitions of leadership and then, drawing on those various definitions, argues that the enactment of leadership is a multiplex involving four key elements: leader, followers, purpose, and context. She expl...
Chapter
The methodology used to collect and analyse the data for this book encompassed several research methods. A key aim of this book is to share the voices of leaders in Africa, and for that reason, we chose a case study approach as our primary source of data. A range of leadership contexts and diverse leaders were involved—senior and young, male and fe...
Chapter
This volume presents a descriptive study of leaders and leadership in business and organizations in Africa. It emphasizes the context, doubts, struggles, and successes of leaders and presents their experience and advice on how to deal with the rapidly changing environment in which they find themselves.
Chapter
This chapter reports the findings that emerged from the follow-up survey on leadership skills and on people’s development needs and experiences. It starts by explaining the design of the survey and the key demographics of the people who completed it. It then reports “top ten items” in terms of importance, frequency of occurrence, and the size of ga...
Book
This book is a timely guide on what constitutes effective leadership in Africa. It explores how today’s leaders in Africa perceive their role, the challenges they experience, and how they operate effectively as leaders. In the era of globalization, there is an increasing need to offer guidance on how leaders can adjust their leadership style to sui...
Article
Full-text available
Most schemes that rank universities for their level of internationalisation are based on compositional criteria, such as the numbers of international students and staff, and student mobility numbers. Yet if such diversity is to be meaningful beyond financial benefits and enhance the quality of education and research, including stimulating growth in...
Article
Full-text available
This article explores the interconnections between culture, context, and language, with a special focus on face. Research into face has taken place in various fields and here we draw on insights from different disciplinary perspectives, notably linguistics and social psychology, to address the following questions: (1) To what extent can the various...
Article
Integration is a concept that is referred to very widely in relation internationalization, yet its meaning is rarely explored and its benefits are often assumed. In this article, we start by reviewing the conceptualization of integration across different fields, notably education and the internationalization of education, intercultural communicatio...
Article
This study investigates participation problems in teams with mixed language proficiencies. Utilising an in-depth single case study approach and drawing on interactional data and interviews, it explores participation in team meetings. It takes a positioning theory approach, and analyses how the least proficient speaker is subtly positioned in variou...
Article
This paper builds on the recent increased interest in interpersonal relations and evaluative judgements, especially in relation to intercultural interaction. It explores three key questions: (1) what or who is evaluated; (2) what warrants underpin the evaluations; and (3) the role of culture, if any, in the evaluation process. It draws on work on n...
Chapter
The article opens with brief examples of the varied contexts in which professionals with expert knowledge of intercultural communication are commissioned by organisations to help improve organisational and individual performance. The development needs that are evident in these contexts entail a broader repertoire of competencies than those generall...
Chapter
This chapter explores the interconnections between culture and behaviour. These interconnections can be two-way, but here we just focus on the potential impact of culture on behaviour, not vice versa. Our goal is not to try to use cultural factors to predict behaviour; such an approach is bound to fail because behaviour will always result from nume...
Article
Many universities in different parts of the world are seeking to enhance the cultural diversity of their staff and student body and yet repeated studies have shown that good integration can be difficult to achieve. Although several studies have examined the reasons why such integration is difficult, there has been very little research into the actu...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore how newly formed culturally diverse project teams develop and implement rules, and how these processes may be affected by language-fluency asymmetries. Design/methodology/approach Using a case-study research design, the authors investigated three multicultural project teams within a management integr...
Article
Full-text available
According to UNESCO statistics, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) sends far more students to study overseas than any other country in the world. Similarly, from the receiving countries’ point of view, PRC students form by far the highest proportion of international students. In many respects, this is a success story, but it also poses a number o...
Chapter
Power and solidarity/distance have an important place in linguistic (Im)politeness research because of their major role in guiding and constraining cooperation in communication. Nevertheless, the conceptualisation of these variables is not straight forward and so the first part of this chapter examines how they have been defined and conceptualised....
Article
Full-text available
Based on an ethnographic-like case study comprising observations and interviews with members of three newly formed multinational project teams, our study explores the micro-processes of interactional teamwork and captures how the three teams develop strategies for managing the challenges of code-switching in their interactions. Findings from our st...
Article
Full-text available
Evaluation is an important aspect of (im)politeness, and this article explores it from an interdisciplinary perspective. It starts by considering the East–West debate in politeness theory and argues that both emic and etic approaches to research can contribute usefully to the deliberations. It then maintains that, if we are to understand the impact...
Article
Full-text available
This case study paper focuses on the processes of adaptation that an Erasmus student, Angela, experienced during her study abroad period. It is a longitudinal study that explores how she coped over time with the various adaptation demands that she faced in the different aspects of her life: social-personal aspects (friends and social life, daily li...
Article
According to a recent report, the top skill that employers are looking for in graduates is an ability to work collaboratively with teams of people from a range of backgrounds and countries. So as universities seek to internationalise, an important question is how successful they are in developing this skill. Both research and anecdotal evidence sug...
Chapter
The critical incident technique (CIT) is particularly useful when researchers are interested in understanding the details of interactional events. This chapter discusses the research into intercultural communication using the CIT has mainly focused on four main areas: the identification of cultural values/standards, insights into cross-cultural tra...
Article
Full-text available
Given the small number of existing studies of face in intercultural settings and the increasing attention given to participant perspectives in face research, this paper explores the gains and losses of face as perceived by Chinese government officials during a three-week delegation visit to the United States of America. These perspectives were obta...
Chapter
Given the small number of existing studies of face in intercultural settings and the increasing attention given to participant perspectives in face research, this paper explores the gains and losses of face as perceived by Chinese government officials during a three-week delegation visit to the United States of America. These perspectives were obta...
Article
Full-text available
When promoting intercultural learning in the context of study and placement mobility, intercultural educators are specifying what students should be learning. Research not only confirms the genuine impact of real-life intercultural contact on intercultural learning but also shows how this impact can be enhanced through institutional support and the...
Chapter
“Intercultural interaction” refers to the behavior (including, but not limited to, verbal and nonverbal communication) that occurs when members of different cultural groups engage in joint activity. Such a definition raises a number of questions, including how to distinguish different cultural groups and what interaction entails. Traditionally nati...
Article
Full-text available
The concept of ‘mindfulness’ is increasingly used in the intercultural literature and yet so far it is largely just a heterogeneous construct with underspecified theoretical content. In this paper we draw on multidisciplinary perspectives to address this shortcoming and develop an integrated analysis of this important construct. We relate ‘mindfuln...
Article
This article examines 'relating at work'. Recent theorising in pragmatics has drawn attention to the importance of analysing relations, and yet the pragmatic study of relations is now intertwined so closely with the concept of face (e.g. Arundale, 2010a; Holmes et al., 2011; Locher and Watts 2005, 2008) that it might seem the two are synonymous. In...
Article
International collaborations are frequently mentioned in university strategies as a way of promoting internationalization, often in relation to achieving greater connectivity among staff from different backgrounds. Much less explicit attention is paid to the underlying rationale for facilitating such connectivity, or the challenges academic staff m...
Article
Communication depends on cooperation in at least the following way: In order to be successful, communicative behavior needs to be adjusted to the general world knowledge, abilities, and interests of the hearer, and the hearer's success in figuring out the message and responding to it needs to be informed by assumptions about the communicator's info...
Article
Over the past few years, there has been an increased focus on ‘the relational’ in pragmatics. However, different pragmatics scholars (e.g. Holmes and Marra, 2004; Locher and Watts, 2005; Arundale, 2006; Spencer-Oatey 2000/2008) take different approaches to ‘the relational’ and use different terms when analysing interpersonal relations. As a result,...
Chapter
This chapter discusses the various steps involved in carrying out a research project, focusing primarily on the impact that cultural factors can have on this process. For general guidance on research methodology, we recommend readers look at books such as Denscombe (2007) or Frankfort-Nachmias and Nachmias (1996).
Chapter
In Part 1 of the book we explored the various ways in which intercultural interaction can be conceptualized, including the interrelationship between culture, interaction processes and interaction competencies. In Part 2 of the book we turn to a related issue: how competence in intercultural interaction can be promoted. In this chapter we explore ho...
Chapter
We mentioned several times in Chapter 8 that one important purpose of intercultural assessment is to promote reflection and to aid the development of ICIC. This chapter focuses specifically on the development process, and deals with two main contexts: professional contexts and school education contexts.
Chapter
Jan Blommaert (1991), a specialist in pragmatics, has asked a key question for the study of intercultural interaction: ‘How much culture is there in intercultural communication?’. Even though it is impossible to answer the question definitively, it is clearly essential to consider first what culture is. This chapter explores this issue from a multi...
Chapter
We have mentioned a number of times in this book that personal disadvantage can occur through intercultural interaction. It can be closely linked to people’s use of language, but it can also involve other issues such as stereotyping and prejudice. In this chapter, we focus directly on such concerns. All of the intercultural competencies we have exp...
Chapter
Interaction between members of different cultural groups can be challenging in many different ways, as the experiential examples throughout this book illustrate. In Chapter 2 we explored the many different ways in which cultural groups can differ — values, orientations to life, beliefs, attitudes to time, communicative conventions and styles, and s...
Chapter
In the last chapter, we saw from Tyler’s (1995) data that when people differ in the meanings that they construct and attribute to each other, a sense of hurt and offence can result. Such problems of rapport are widely reported in the intercultural literature, and this chapter focuses on reasons for their occurrence and ways in which they can be red...
Chapter
In the last chapter we noted that competence in communication is an important component of intercultural competence. In this chapter we explore this aspect in greater depth, focusing on the impact of culture on the process of achieving understanding, and the competencies that are needed for handling this. We concentrate on the ‘content’ aspect of u...
Chapter
This chapter and the next focus on research into intercultural interaction. In this chapter, we outline some key research topics, and sample studies, associated with the various issues explored in Parts 1 and 2. In the next chapter, we explore the steps involved in carrying out a research project, and discuss the ways in which cultural factors need...
Chapter
During the last three chapters we have explored the intercultural competencies needed for effective and appropriate intercultural interaction, focusing particularly on the process of interaction. In this chapter we turn to the individual and consider the impact that intercultural interaction can have on the psychological welfare and growth of those...
Chapter
The list of resources below is necessarily not comprehensive. It represents a personal selection rather than a choice made according to certain objective criteria. In the category ‘Books’, however, titles are also included which meet the criteria of ‘significance for the area’ or ‘overview character’ or ‘collection of key readings’.
Article
Full-text available
This Toolbook has been designed for those who are planning and running international projects and who feel a need for guidance. It has its origins in a major educational project, the eChina-UK Programme1, that created new collaborations between UK and Chinese Higher Education Institutions around the development of e-learning materials. The rich int...
Book
Full-text available
In today's globalized world of international contact and multicultural interaction, effective intercultural communication is increasingly seen as a pre-requisite for social harmony and organisational success. This handbook takes a "problem-solving"approach to the various issues that arise in real-life intercultural interaction. The editors have bro...
Chapter
Extensive research evidence, especially from the field of international management (e.g. Maznevski 1994; Janssens and Brett 1997; DiStefano and Maznevski 2000; Maznevski and Chudoba 2000; de Dreu 2002; Polzer, Milton and Swann 2002; West 2002) has shown that any kind of diversity in work groups is a double-edged sword: it has the potential to impro...
Article
This paper explores the insights that theories of identity can offer for the conceptualisation and analysis of face. It argues that linguists will benefit from taking a multidisciplinary approach, and that by drawing on theory and research in other disciplines, especially in social psychology, they will gain a clearer and deeper understanding of fa...
Article
Face and (im)politeness are widely discussed and debated in the pragmatics literature. This special issue, which has developed out of a symposium presented at the 7th International Pragmatics Conference at Riva del Garda, Italy in 2005, aims to enrich our understanding of these concepts by examining them from the perspective of identity. The first...
Book
This book provides research and application insights into e-learning in China, in the light of two drives by the Chinese Ministry of Education: to implement curriculum reform and to promote quality and innovation in e-learning provision. © 2007 by The Hong Kong University Press, HKU. All rights reserved.
Article
Full-text available
This paper reports an empirical study of the psychological and sociocultural adjustments of two cohorts of Chinese students taking a foundation course in English language at a British university. Using Zung's (1965) Self-Rating Depression Scale and a modification of Ward and Kennedy's (1999) Sociocultural Adaptation Scale, quantitative data were ob...
Article
This paper takes rapport (Spencer-Oatey 2000, 2002) as its central concern, since (im)politeness is typically associated in some way with harmonious/conflictual interpersonal relations. The paper discusses the factors that influence people's dynamic perceptions of rapport, and proposes that there are three key elements: behavioral expectations, fac...
Article
This paper explores how peoples expectations regarding talk and non-talk can affect intercultural interactions. Using discourse data from two Chinese - British business meetings together with follow-up interview comments, it describes instances when the participants reacted differently to talklnon-talk, and considers why the differing reactions occ...
Article
Full-text available
The present study aimed at investigating possible cultural effects on the perceived importance of interactional concerns in service encounters. Individual values were examined to establish an explanatory framework for any effects that might emerge. Hong Kong Chinese and Filipinos participated in the present study by rating the importance of 12 inte...
Chapter
Given the small number of existing studies of face in intercultural settings and the increasing attention given to participant perspectives in face research, this paper explores the gains and losses of face as perceived by Chinese government officials during a three-week delegation visit to the United States of America. These perspectives were obta...
Article
This paper focuses on how culture can be treated as an explanatory variable in cross-cultural pragmatic studies. It starts with a review of pragmatic maxims [Grice, H. Paul, 1989. Logic and Conversation. William James Lectures, 1967. (Reprinted in Grice, H.P. (Ed.), Studies in the Way of Words, pp. 22–40); Leech, Geoffrey N., 1983. Principles of Pr...
Article
Full-text available
This paper explores the management of rapport in intercultural business interactions. It compares two Chinese-British business welcome meetings that were held by the same British company. Despite many similarities between the two meetings, both the British and the Chinese were very satisfied with the first meeting, while the Chinese were very annoy...
Article
This paper focuses on the motivational concerns that underlie the management of relations. In linguistics, the management of relations has been discussed extensively within politeness theory, and so the paper starts by identifying four key issues of controversy in politeness theory: (a) should ‘polite’ language use be explained in terms of face (e....
Article
Full-text available
Compliments are usually intended to have a positive effect on interpersonal relations, yet for the outcome actually to be positive, both the compliment and the compliment response need to be handled appropriately. This paper focuses on different types of compliment responses, and explores Chinese people's evaluative judgements of these different ty...

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Projects (4)
Project
The goal of this project is to explore the interconnections between morality and rapport, especially from an intercultural perspective. It takes an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on pragmatics (politeness theory and rapport management), moral psychology, and moral education.
Archived project
This diagnostic tool enables HEI senior managers and teaching staff to measure 5 key constructs associated with internationalisation and student diversity, and informs strategic planning.