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Language use in establishing rapport and building relations : implications for international teams and management education

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Abstract

When language issues are discussed in management literature the focus has most often been on resolving what has become known as “the language barrier” which is found to slow down business and increase costs for the company. This operational dimension is certainly important, but it has taken center stage while another important function of communication, namely the management of relations and the establishing of rapport, has tended to be overlooked. Research conducted on relationship building and managing distance in global teams has shown the importance of psychological and social factors but tends to ignore the primordial role played by verbal communication in intercultural interactions. This is surprising given that varying degrees of language knowledge and of communication competencies among members of such teams can create obstacles for effective teambuilding and cooperation. Companies invest large amounts in technology such as video-conferencing and sophisticated e-mail networks, and although a lingua franca may be used, individuals are often unable to relate to each other. While information has the potential to flow more quickly, collaboration remains difficult as the ‘language barrier’ has not been dealt with effectively. An understanding of language use in interactions is therefore critical for the successful management of interpersonal relations and for establishing rapport in international teams. This paper demonstrates that these language and cultural differences can be opportunities rather than obstacles and that an understanding of the effects of language strategies and choices leads to more enlightened communication for managing relations and establishing this rapport. Based on a review of a sample of the management literature and on illustrative empirical data analysed from a sociolinguistic perspective, findings show the importance of understanding language use in context and demonstrate how interactional patterns and discursive strategies affect the management of relations in teams. A lack of trust and the stigmatization of individuals or groups have been identified in recent management research as being part of the risk factors for individuals in multicultural work settings. The paper discusses the implications of this research for management education and for the development of “soft skills”, said to be lacking among graduate trainee managers. Some linguists have claimed that many textbooks on intercultural business communication deal with the question of the effective management of communication very superficially. This supports the argument for an interdisciplinary approach bringing together research in the human sciences and management sciences. It is essential for the “language” faculty in business schools to understand the challenges facing managers in international professional settings. In many “language” courses in business schools in France, for example, the focus is on language as representing a given national culture or “civilisation”. This approach tends to be comparative and contrastive, with the aim of facilitating insertion in a given country, in the case of an overseas assignment for example. However it is insufficient for preparing students for working in international teams. The recommendation made in this paper is that there should be a shift of focus in language training for management students with an emphasis on “borders and frontiers that join rather than divide” (Alread et al 2003, in Bargiela-Chiappini & Nickerson 2003).
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Language use in establishing rapport and
building relations : implications for inter-
national teams and management education
par Linda Cohen73 et Jane Kassis-Henderson74
Résumé
En s’appuyant sur des recherches en sociolinguistique portant sur les
interactions en contexte multilingue, cet article analyse les stratégies
linguistiques à l’oeuvre dans la construction des relations interpersonnelles
pour favoriser et consolider l’interaction dans les équipes internationales
dans les entreprises.
Abstract
When language issues are discussed in management literature the focus
has most often been on resolving what has become known as “the language
barrier” which is found to slow down business and increase costs for the
company. This operational dimension is certainly important, but it has taken
centre stage while another important function of communication, namely
the management of relations and the establishing of rapport, has tended to
be overlooked. Research conducted on relationship building and managing
distance in global teams has shown the importance of psychological and
social factors but tends to ignore the primordial role played by verbal
communication in intercultural interactions. This is surprising given that
varying degrees of language knowledge and of communication competencies
among members of such teams can create obstacles for effective team-
building and cooperation. Companies invest large amounts in technology
such as video-conferencing and sophisticated e-mail networks, and although
a lingua franca may be used, individuals are often unable to relate to each
other. While information has the potential to ow more quickly, collaboration
remains difcult as the ‘language barrier’ has not been dealt with effectively.
An understanding of language use in interactions is therefore critical for
the successful management of interpersonal relations and for establishing
rapport in international teams. This paper demonstrates that these language
and cultural differences can be opportunities rather than obstacles and that
an understanding of the effects of language strategies and choices leads to
more enlightened communication for managing relations and establishing
this rapport. Based on a review of a sample of the management literature
and on illustrative empirical data analysed from a sociolinguistic perspective,
ndings show the importance of understanding language use in context and
73. Linda Cohen, ESCP Europe, lcohen@escpeurope.eu
74. Jane Kassis-Henderson, ESCP Europe, jkassis@escpeurope.eu
55
166
demonstrate how interactional patterns and discursive strategies affect the
management of relations in teams. A lack of trust and the stigmatization of
individuals or groups have been identied in recent management research
as being part of the risk factors for individuals in multicultural work settings.
The paper discusses the implications of this research for management
education and for the development of “soft skills”, said to be lacking among
graduate trainee managers. Some linguists have claimed that many
textbooks on intercultural business communication deal with the question of
the effective management of communication very supercially. This supports
the argument for an interdisciplinary approach bringing together research
in the human sciences and management sciences. It is essential for the
“language” faculty in business schools to understand the challenges facing
managers in international professional settings. In many “language” courses
in business schools in France, for example, the focus is on language as
representing a given national culture or “civilisation”. This approach tends
to be comparative and contrastive, with the aim of facilitating insertion in a
given country, in the case of an overseas assignment for example. However
it is insufcient for preparing students for working in international teams. The
recommendation made in this paper is that there should be a shift of focus
in language training for management students with an emphasis on “borders
and frontiers that join rather than divide” (Alread et al 2003, in Bargiela-
Chiappini & Nickerson 2003).
The urgency of addressing language use in communication issues has come to
the fore with the increasing internationalization of business organizations. The
initial response led to the emergence of intercultural business communication
as a specialized eld which has tended to conne language and communication
issues within a framework reecting national and/or cultural characteristics.
This over-simplied approach of binding language to one determined national
culture does not account for the complexity and diversity of today’s multicultural
societies which are reected in the composition of the workplace. Within
educational systems as well, this static, normative view of languages as symbols
of national identity has prevailed. However, with the increasing sensitivity, both
on a local and global level, to the existence of plural identities and linguistic
diversity, the above paradigm is no longer adequate. We therefore argue for a
more comprehensive approach applying theories and concepts from the eld of
linguistics and communication studies to help our understanding of the breadth
of language-related phenomena in international business.
When business communication issues are discussed in management literature
they tend to be over-simplied in the manner outlined above. There is also
a tendency to simplify or to overlook the importance of language in its basic
communicative function. This oversimplication results in dening all related
problems through the metaphor of a “language barrier” which is found to slow
down business and increase costs for the company (Harzing et al., 2011). This
operational dimension is certainly important, but it has taken centre stage while
167
another essential function of communication, namely the enabling of relations
and the building of rapport between individuals, has tended to be overlooked.
Research conducted on relationship building and managing distance in global
teams in multinational companies (MNCs) has shown the importance of
psychological and social factors but tends to ignore the primordial role played
by verbal communication in intercultural interactions. This is surprising given that
varying degrees of language knowledge and of communication competencies
among members of such teams can create obstacles for effective team-building
and cooperation. Companies invest large amounts in technology such as video-
conferencing and sophisticated e-mail networks, and although a lingua franca
may be used, individuals are often unable to relate to one another. While
information has the potential to ow more quickly, collaboration remains difcult
as the ‘language barrier’ has not been dealt with effectively. An understanding of
language use in interactions is therefore critical for the successful management
of interpersonal relations and for establishing rapport in international teams.
The paper is structured as follows. The rst part gives a brief overview of
references in management literature to our topic. This points to the need for
adopting a broader framework for analysing language use and communication
strategies in the socialization processes within international teams. We then
show the relevance of applying certain concepts from the eld of linguistics for
investigating the management of relations and establishing of rapport between
team-members. The nal section underlines the importance of incorporating
this dimension into management education and we present the ndings from
our empirical data derived from a pedagogical experience designed to incite
reexive learning on the complexity of establishing relations across languages
and cultures.
Re-addressing language issues
Language-related issues in business contexts have been widely studied by
scholars in different areas of applied linguistics and communication studies. The
theoretical sources most relevant to our study are from the area of intercultural
communication theory concerned with adaptations in interactions, or interactional
sociolinguistics (Gumperz 1970, Scollon and Scollon 1995; Pan et al. 2002).
Their main eld of inquiry is the impact of linguistic and cultural diversity on the
communicative environments of today (Gumperz 2003). Culture in this context is
not limited to a national dimension, as it so often is when associated with language
use. As Gumperz explains, culture characterizes “the personal background
that might account for variations in individual verbal behaviors, whether they be
attributable to a national, racial, or ethnic culture or the culture of a particular social
class, generation or gender” (Gumperz 2003:226). This research demonstrates
Language use in establishing rapport and
building relations : implications for inter-
national teams and management education
55
168
the complexity of the communication process given that these aspects of personal
background determine expectations of speech acts and features of talk. As
successful interaction depends on correctly inferring what others intend to convey
while controlling how one’s own messages are received (Gumperz 2003:218),
possible cultural interference must be detected to avoid misunderstanding or
misalignment. Problems arise because signals may be interpreted differently
among members of multilingual/multicultural groups. Contextualization cues, or
those signals indicating context, stem from the interactional practices resulting
from the experience of each individual and are therefore not immediately shared
in a new group setting. If not dealt with, this leads to miscommunication which
in turn can harm interpersonal relations and hinder the effective treatment of the
task at hand.
Building a team identity, one of the major challenges in today’s globalized business
world, requires more than the mere interaction of individuals with various cultural,
educational and language backgrounds. Effective communication lies at the
core of the team-building process: correctly interpreting a message is indeed
necessary to share knowledge and insights in order to develop a cohesive strategy.
Establishing rapport and building relations are therefore vital for managing
interaction in the workplace. As today’s international business operations are
most often performed by individuals working in exible, multicultural/multilingual
teams and networks, their interdependency creates new challenges. Successful
interaction, which is based on shared interpretation in this culturally diverse
workforce, is far from automatic. Building relations is therefore essential as creating
chains of understanding is necessary for the development of trust, loyalty and
commitment within a team. As John Hendry aptly highlights in his article in the
journal Management Learning, the management of personal relationships is key,
as “only if people trust each other will they share their knowledge and insights”
(Hendry 2006:274) and he cites listening, empathy, personal engagement, open
and honest communications” among the requisite skills and behaviour to be a
successful team member. Understanding how effective language use and strategy
can positively impact relations is therefore a major challenge facing international
teams.
Language as barrier
The traditional approach to language management in the multilingual environment
of MNCs has been to resolve the issue by using one language – most often
English – as the lingua franca. This results in creating a dichotomy between native
speaker and non-native speaker where the non-native language user seeks to
acquire the requisite language competencies to attain idealized native speaker
uency. In this static approach, the native speaker identied with clearly dened
cultural references serves as model. This stance naturally creates boundaries
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between language groups, which in turn leads to problems such as those related
to exclusion and inclusion due to the creation of in-groups and out-groups, or
when positions of power tend to be allotted simply on the basis of language skills,
hence the inevitable advantage held by the native speaker (Marschan-Piekkari
et al. 1999). Viewed from this perspective, language diversity is considered a
source of trouble in an already complex environment.
When issues related to this static approach to language are discussed in
management literature the focus has most often been on resolving this “language
barrier” (Harzing et al. 2011:282). Blame is placed on language as the decision-
making process is often perceived as slower and seen as less efcient due to
necessary translating and interpreting, hence language diversity is viewed
negatively as a hindrance to overall efciency and for incurring increased costs.
This operational dimension is certainly important, however maintaining an ideal of
language performance mirroring a monolingual environment is counterproductive
in today’s globalized world as it blinds managers from seeking the true issues
that impede communication. Making the perfection of language skills the
priority for non-native speakers contradicts ndings in research literature which
reveal that frequent syntactic and lexical anomalies do not necessarily produce
misunderstandings in context (Charles 2007). It is also clear that the simple fact
of speaking the same language does not guarantee shared meaning. Mutual
understanding stems from more than a common vocabulary : community of
meaning must still be created within a particular context, even among team
members who share a common academic background (Charles 2007, Cohen and
Kassis-Henderson 2010). As misunderstanding and problems of interpretation
exist even among speakers of the same language, it is important to understand
how effective meaning negotiation in international business contexts takes
place.
Mismanaging language diversity: the impact on establishing
rapport
The true cost of mismanaging language diversity in teams cannot be measured
in terms of translating and interpreting but in damaged relationships (Feely
and Harzing 2003) and the impact on team efciency. If this static or traditional
approach to language in the workplace is maintained, sociolinguists have found
“that in a cross-lingual meeting of groups, language becomes the dominant factor
in dening the group boundaries and composition” (Gallois et al. 1988 in Feely
2002:214). Mäkelä, Kalla, and Piekkari refer to the “clustering” that occurs in
MNCs merely on the basis of language and cultural similarities to the detriment of
interaction which is required to accomplish the task at hand (Mäkelä et al. 2006
in Charles 2007:275). Once group boundaries have been so dened,
Language use in establishing rapport and
building relations : implications for inter-
national teams and management education
55
170
“social identity theory (Tajfel 1982 in Feely 2002:214) predicts that the individual
participants will take on and defend the values, interests and ideologies of that
group and will attribute negative intentions to the words and acts of out-group
members, leading to a cooling of the relationship and a divergence of outlook
between the two language groups.”
Relying on this duality of native speaker/non-native speaker divides the group into
‘them’ and ‘us’ creating additional problems for the non-native speaker to function
as a full member of the team, whereas expertise is not a necessary corollary of
language competency (Pekaret Doehler 2009; Cohen 2011). This static view which
denes the other according to pre-existing categories determined by linguistic
and cultural identity is no longer operable when confronted to the realities of a
multicultural/multilingual environment.
Language use and communication: the impact on socialization
processes
Research on communication in MNCs has shown there is a lack of awareness
of what is involved in communicating across languages and cultures (Marschan
et al.1997). As discussed above, it cannot be reduced to the obvious aspect
of foreign language capability or a knowledge of cultures, although these are
important. Cross-language communication requires specic skills, attitudes, and
values (Holden 2002). Some scholars have recommended adopting a broader
perspective in the assessment of communication skills of employees, claiming
that these should not only be based on the ability to use a specic language
system (Charles and Marschan-Piekkari 2002). Indeed, research has shown that
technical language competence without affective and behavioural competencies
is insufcient for relationship development (Grifth 2002 in Kassis-Henderson
2005). Moreover, as the ability to understand the listener’s situation and to adapt
to his or her level of understanding is required for effective communication,
awareness of how to build a relationship is itself considered a core competency
(Berger 1998 in Andersen & Rasmussen). Other communication competencies
and attitudes connected with this are: gauging one’s level of jargon and speed
of delivery to the language uency of the listener; recognizing the differing
meaning of verbal and non-verbal language; listening and questioning so as to
understand the views and opinions of others. We contend that these aspects are
not sufciently addressed in management literature on international teams or in
management education.
As obvious as it may seem, it is important to point out as Charles has done,
that “only language can enable individuals and companies (and countries) to
communicate” (Charles, 2007:261). She stresses the primordial role played by
informal oral communication in MNCs “as it is essential for networking and for
171
forming bridging and bonding relationships between employees which in turn
contribute to knowledge sharing and the accumulation of social capital within the
company” (Kalla 2006 in Charles 2007:272).
In research ndings on teams, language difculties and issues linked to
socialization processes are reported to be the hardest challenge. (Lagerstrom
and Andersson 2003; Maznevski and Chudoba, 2000 in Kassis-Henderson
2005). Workplace talk in general and meetings in particular include more than
only task-related discussion (Halbe 2012). Competence in conversation or “small
talk” for building relationships between team members are therefore serious
matters. Studies indicate that interpersonal skills are considered to be crucial
to the success of employees and the organization alike (Morreale et al. 2000 in
Madlock and Booth-Buttereld 2012). Other research ndings demonstrate that
team members themselves make a distinction between perceived ease when
speaking about technical topics compared to the relative difculty of maintaining
what is commonly considered ‘simple small talk’ (Kassis-Henderson 2005).
The language factor: building rapport to create a common
culture
The importance of explicitly factoring in this broader perspective of language
use in socialization processes is not always specically evoked in management
literature, but without it the various bonding activities that are mentioned cannot
take place. Lagerstrom and Andersson, in an article entitled “Creating and
sharing knowledge within a transnational team – the development of a global
business system,” stress the fact that as knowledge resides within individuals,
social interactions lie at the core of knowledge management. They show that
establishing mutual understanding is closely connected to the behaviour of
individuals and language use and strategy, here explicitly acknowledging
the importance of the language issue in interpersonal interaction. They quote
executives who say: “But….we all speak our own kind of English, which means
that we need to socialize and spend time together to learn each other’s way of
speaking. Therefore you must also be interested in meeting and learning to know
new people” (Lagerstrom and Andersson 2003:94).
Other studies have shown that positive organizational relationships increase
organizational effectiveness and good communication is essential for the
outcome of business (Halbe 2012:49). As language use and strategy are essential
components of successful communication, the language factor is implicitly
present in these studies although not explicitly addressed. Thomas, Zolin &
Hartman (2009) clearly demonstrate the central role of communication in different
professional relationships as their main focus is on the quality/quantity of shared
information. In a study on building global virtual teams, Henttonen and Blomqvist
Language use in establishing rapport and
building relations : implications for inter-
national teams and management education
55
172
(2005:115) identify the importance of “individual tolerance and experiences,
social similarity, forms of socializing, caring talk, personal conversations, story
telling, humour, ritual and ceremony.” They also emphasize the need to create a
common culture and common procedures (Henttonen and Blomqvist 2005:117).
Claire Kramsch (2009) directly focuses on the importance of the language factor to
build this common culture in her application of the theory of ‘thirdness’ to linguistics
and communication. The concept of ‘Third Culture’ provides a model other than
the traditional dichotomy of native/non-native speaker to focus on what is created
through the relation between speakers (Kramsch 2009:238) and the dynamic
of the event itself (Kramsch 2009:248). Positive group interaction creates a
common sense of identity resulting from “a relational process-oriented disposition
that is built in time through habit” (Kramsch 2009:234). This place of contact or
encounter informs language choices to create what she has conceptualized as a
‘third place’ in communication. In this way, language use and strategy are both
the result of and necessary to the process of building rapport.
The language factor: understanding how language is used in
team interactions
Before being able to construct a common language and inhabit this ‘third place’
individuals need to understand how language is used in interactions. Learning
through observation of the strategies of other team members is the method
recommended by the communication experts: “we need to learn how to learn
directly from the people with whom we need to interact” (Pan et al. 2002:4). In an
analysis of linguistic strategies, Virkulla-Räisänen (2010) explains how success in
the global workplace depends on a complex “mixture of interpersonal, intercultural,
semiotic and interactional competencies (Virkulla-Räisänen (2010:529). This
study gives further weight to the importance of observing in order to understand
how language effects interactions. Based on detailed linguistic analysis, it clearly
demonstrates the underlying difculty for business professionals to acquire the
requisite competencies.
Learning what to observe is the rst step in this process. Communication behaviour
such as ‘caring talk’ and ‘being attentive have been identied in research by
international business scholars as fundamental for establishing relations in teams
(Henttonen and Blomqvist, 2005:115), but how is this made manifest in language
use? In their studies of interaction processes in multicultural contexts, linguists
and communication scholars have identied how language is used in building
rapport and establishing relations; their work shows, for example, what aspects
of verbal and non-verbal language merit particular attention in interaction. This
also demonstrates how awareness of the importance of establishing rapport lies
at the core of the process itself.
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Language use: the interactional function and rapport
management
A linguist and specialist in intercultural communication, Helen Spencer-Oatey,
has conducted research on the interrelationship between language use and the
management of interpersonal relations. She has proposed the term “rapport
management” to refer to the use of language - verbal and non-verbal strategies
- to promote, maintain or threaten harmonious social relations (Spencer-Oatey
2008:3). With reference to Brown and Yule (1983) she reminds the reader that
language has two main functions: the transactional (or information-transferring)
function, and the interactional (or maintenance of social relationships) function:
the goal of transactional language being to convey information coherently
and accurately, “whereas the goal of interactional speech is to communicate
friendliness and goodwill, and to make the participants feel comfortable and
unthreatened” (Spencer-Oatey 2008:2). As we mentioned in the rst part of this
communication, in references to language in international business research,
there is a tendency to minimize the importance of this second function. It is often
glossed over or referred to as a consequence of the language barrier, whereas as
we have shown above, relationship problems are a principal cause. Indeed, one
function cannot operate effectively without the other, but as our argument shows,
the interactional function is primordial for building relations in teams.
Re-framing language identities
The importance of effectively negotiating these two functions is reinforced
through studies pointing out that workplace talk includes more than simple task-
related talk, and as Halbe suggests, “It needs to be shown how politeness and
task orientedness interact (i.e. getting the job done and paying attention to the
respective face needs)” (Halbe 2012:49).
The concept of face has been widely studied in communication studies (Halbe
2012:49). Face, in the context of interactions, has been dened as “identity
respect and other identity consideration” (Ting-Toomey, 2005). Ways of managing
rapport are reected in face-saving and face-giving behavior, together referred to
as facework (Scollon and Wong-Scollon, 2001 in Planken, 2005:382).
Spencer-Oatey demonstrates how common speech acts, such as orders and
requests, apologies and compliments can be viewed from a rapport management
perspective (Spencer-Oatey 2008:20). And as Goffman explained in his founding
articles on facework: “There is no occasion of talk so trivial as not to require each
participant to show serious concern with the way in which he handles himself and
the others present (Goffman 1967:33). Spencer-Oatey shows that “rapport threat”
and “rapport enhancement” are subjective evaluations which do not depend only
Language use in establishing rapport and
building relations : implications for inter-
national teams and management education
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174
on the content of the message but on “interpretations and reactions to who says
what under what circumstances” (Spencer-Oatey 2008:20).
In this connection, the language identity of an individual is a signicant factor.
Individuals tend to see themselves and others with specic language identities
as, for example, monolingual, bilingual, or multilingual, and this gives rise to
expectations of practices and competence based on pre-conceived standards
using monolingualism as a yardstick (Grosjean 1985). As discussed above, in
this ‘static’ or ‘traditional’ approach to language use, judgements of competence
tend to be based on the native speaker model and individuals therefore fear losing
face if their use of language does not meet expectations. On the other hand,
experienced communicators tend to be sensitized to the need for face-saving
behaviour, which in turn allows the maintenance of conversational involvement
(Gumperz 2003:223). The way a person speaks may therefore lead to rapport
threat or enhancement depending on the reactions of the hearer. However, as
research in linguistics has demonstrated, each individual communicator is a
specic speaker-hearer, whether using one, two or many languages and has a
particular language competence.
Research into language practices in multilingual teams indicates that there is much
interplay of languages and great exibility in the way they are used, even within
a workplace setting which has adopted one ofcial working language, or lingua
franca (Kassis Henderson 2005). Being ‘specic speaker-hearers’ with varied
language identities, individuals choose which language(s) to use, with whom, on
what occasions and for what purposes. Code-switching often occurs between
bilinguals who use the other shared language for a word, phrase or sentence and
different languages spoken occasionally to accommodate the different parties
present. There is also the option of introducing new words from another language
when the speaker does not know the appropriate term, has forgotten it, or thinks
this will lead to a better understanding. Indeed, the interplay of various languages
has been described as one of the key features that characterize globalization
today (Virkulla-Räisänen (2010:506). Commenting on this research Savage
and Sapp write:” …some of the most valuable data in this article describes
when participants choose to stop speaking English in order to speak with their
colleagues in their native language” (Savage and Sapp 2010:94).
Language use: negotiating strategies in context
One problem observed in the international workplace is the widely held assumption
that communication is governed by shared conventions whatever language is
being used. This can be explained by the fact that interpersonal exchanges in
everyday interactions consist largely of routinized and conventionalized speech.
In linguistics a routine is a recurrent pattern which is sometimes expressed in
formulaic expressions. The most frequent are those employed in greeting,
175
thanking, apologizing, taking leave and forms of address. Apart from some easily
recognizable expressions, most language use consists of recurrent patterns as
found, for example, in conventions for participating in discussions, such as turn-
taking, pauses, silences, interruptions. Every exchange, even in a monolingual
environment, requires negotiating these multiple linguistic components. They may
be negotiated more or less unconsciously or understood implicitly in one’s native
language and culture, but must be rendered explicit and clearly taken into account
in a multilingual environment (Le Boterf, 1994; Gudykunst, 1991; Wiemann and
Backlund, 1980; Cohen, 2011). Effective communication in a multilingual context
therefore requires more time and effort to consciously address and clarify these
linguistic components.
Knowing how to interpret silence, for example, is a particular difculty in cross-
lingual communication as for some it indicates a legitimate pause for reection,
and for others it can be an unacceptable break in the communication event and/
or a source of embarrassment. This ‘routine’ characteristic of speech tends to
blind people to the fact that in every language a range of options can be used
(Spencer-Oatey 2008:21) for managing face and consequently rapport. Among
those which impact interpersonal relations are the choice of intonation and tone
of voice and the choice of terms of address or knowing what to call people. The
latter is linked to involvement and distancing strategies, said to be particularly
problematic in foreign language use (Hagen 1999). In this connection, research
on professional communication in international settings has shown the limits of
attempting to standardize practices around the world. This is substantiated by
Musson, Cohen and Tietze (2007) who underline the importance of this “process
of relationality” in their analysis of the discourse of teamwork: “We put forward
the idea of meaning making as relational rather than referential. That is, […] a
discourse does not refer to a single uncontested reality that exists ‘out there’.
Rather, its meaning is derived consensually… and it denes who can speak, on
what topic, in which context and styles and for what purpose.” (Musson et al. p.15,
also citing Jackson and Carter, 2000:66). With reference to terms of address, the
use of the widespread model of the cultural communication practices of North
American business people is criticized along these lines: “(…) it is the custom
among business people in North America to speak to each other on a rst name
basis wherever possible. This gets translated in the “Dale Carnegie” tradition
of “winning friends and inuencing people” into the rule that you should always
focus on learning a person’s personal name and then use that name to address
the person” (Pan et al. 2002:4). However, as experienced international players
know, this strategy is not to be recommended outside a local U.S. context.
But interpretation or sense-making means making sense of many more aspects
of communication than the explicit verbal message. Depending on the speech
habits derived from their native language communities, individuals tend to be
more or less explicit. This phenomenon has been theorized by Hall (1976) who has
Language use in establishing rapport and
building relations : implications for inter-
national teams and management education
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176
shown that communication styles in different countries reect ‘high context’ or ‘low
context cultures’. In the former, the information is largely implicit and conveyed by
non-verbal elements present in the situation or ‘context’ of the speaker. However,
these xed cultural categories do not necessarily provide useful frameworks
enabling people to achieve mutual understanding in multilingual groups.
In an analysis of the competencies required for international collaboration, stress
is laid on the need to learn about each other’s contexts, viewpoints and ways of
working (Spencer-Oatey and Tang, 2007). To do so, individuals need to acquire
the analytical tools to make sense of concepts such as that of context so as to be
able to draw inferences from contextualisation cues in groups characterised by
diversity. Three dimensions of context have been identied: “the verbal context,
that is, making sense of the wording and the topic; the relationship context,
that is, the structuring, type and style of messages so that they correspond to
the particular relationship at hand; and the environmental context, that is, the
consideration of constraints imposed on message making by the symbolic and
physical environments” (Gudykunst, 1991; Wiemann & Backlund, 1980).
By departing from old speech habits and routines, international team players
rethink their communication practices and learn to adopt new verbal and non-
verbal strategies in the context of interaction. It is through this interaction that
meaning is constructed, which allows co-workers to develop their own, shared
cultural practices. In this way “the place of contact or encounter informs their
language choices” to create this common or ‘third place’. (Kramsch, 2009).
Addressing language use and strategies in management
education
It is essential that each individual be made aware of these various components
of language use and communication strategies in order to become an effective
member of a multilingual/multicultural team. As shown above, the number
of variables to be taken into account means these issues are not dealt with
automatically nor can they be resolved implicitly. It is therefore imperative for
business schools to prepare students for the complexity of the world that awaits
them.
In an article that appeared in the New York Times (Wallace 2010) addressing the
issue of ‘Multicultural Critical Theory at B-School?’ it is said that “students need to
learn how to think critically and creatively every bit as much as they need to learn
nance or accounting. More specically, they need to learn how to approach
problems from many perspectives and to combine various approaches to nd
innovative solutions.” This is indeed a challenge that has faced management
education for decades, leading Thorstein Veblen to coin the expression ‘trained
incapacities’ referring to the widening eld of ignorance which results from the
177
focus and intensifying specialization of business schools (1914, 1918). Then,
as now, the interest in this question lies in the far-reaching nature of business
practices, as their impact is both conditioned by and felt in society at large.
Management students need to be encouraged to confront different perspectives
to be able to adapt to the diversity of points of view they will inevitably encounter
in the workplace, especially as having the ability to cross boundaries (be it those
that are created between the management disciplines as Veblen pointed out
nearly a century ago, or between language, social or cultural groups) is therefore
a fundamental competency to develop. Providing an appropriate learning context
for management students to understand the importance of considering the world
through the eyes of the other and taking into account this other perspective is
a pressing challenge for educators today. Learning how to establish rapport in
order to successfully construct shared meaning is therefore an essential rst
step. Coupled with this is the need to question the impact of language use in the
very process of establishing rapport.
Our empirical data in the next section gives examples of this learning process
among management students experiencing the challenges of building rapport
and establishing relations in an international context.
Research terrain: The Tandem Program
In order to analyse this impact of language use in the process of establishing
rapport, a study was conducted in a European business school among students
in an international Masters in Management program participating in a program
based on the creation of partners from diverse language and cultural backgrounds
or ‘tandems’. This multilingual/multicultural terrain provided the framework to
question how language use may threaten or enhance rapport as well as how
individuals learn to establish rapport and manage relations.
Participating students were informed that the Tandem program was designed to
help integrate different student populations, to enable students to use language
in a natural context and to gain intercultural awareness by stimulating interaction
among these different groups. Our hypothesis was that, through this interaction,
students would also gain an understanding of the difculty of establishing rapport
and the importance of building rapport for effective communication.
Whenever possible, the tandems were formed based on criteria of certain
commonalities to facilitate interaction: shared language, interest in the tandem
partner’s university or home country for possible academic exchange programs.
By default, the tandem pair was formed with English and their current educational
experience in common.
Language use in establishing rapport and
building relations : implications for inter-
national teams and management education
55
178
Further instructions were kept to a minimum in an effort to create an autonomous
environment, leaving students to spontaneously forge a relationship that would
eventually lead to furthering the integration of members of the diverse student
populations.
Empirical data
104 tandems were formed for a 16-week period, 58 interviews were held during
a three-week period in December 2011. Interviews lasted approximately 30
minutes and were conducted by the authors (bilingual English-French speakers)
in either English or French, depending on the preference of the interviewees.
Preliminary questionnaires (see annex) were sent to each tandem participant
prior to the interviews. 208 were sent, 110 were returned. Of those returned, 3
were written in common. Selected replies to these questionnaires are included in
our discussion.
For the purpose of this study, both the interviews and questionnaires were
analyzed from the perspective of building and establishing rapport. As this issue
was not explicitly enounced as an objective from the outset of the project, it was
vaguely evoked in the following terms in the questionnaire to incite the participants
to reect on this aspect of the experience: “What has this experience taught you
about interaction in an international context?.” This stimulated a response which
was further treated during the interviews. Results were then analyzed within our
theoretical framework. The feedback process allowed the students to reect on
and render explicit aspects of the interaction process that otherwise would have
not been dealt with.
Findings: learning how to establish rapport
We have presented the data under broad headings. These categories are not
intended to oversimplify the complex communicative process as discussed in the
paper, but provide useful guidelines to highlight points that emerged. We have
also indicated when statements were verbatim in interview or quoted from the
written questionnaires. Each category is introduced with a quotation to situate the
data within our theoretical framework.
I) Understanding the difculty of establishing rapport
“International collaboration is extremely time-consuming. If true
collaboration (rather than supercial co-operation) is to take
place, staff need to have the time to ‘start slowly’ rather than
immediately focus on the task. They need to build mutual trust and
understanding so that there is ‘glue’ to hold them together when
pressures later arise and they need to learn about each other’s
179
contexts, professional viewpoints, ways of working. Reducing or
limiting the timescale of projects in order to save money is thus
highly counterproductive.” (Spencer-Oatey and Tang, 2007: 172)
One recurrent theme which formed a leitmotiv throughout our data was that,
contrary to expectations, establishing rapport is difcult, time consuming and
requires effort. Most students assumed that language afnity, or sharing a
linguistic code, would sufce to establish a constructive relationship. This ties in
with the observation made earlier that to anticipate the difculty, it is necessary
to learn how to interact in international groups and that knowing a language or
culture is insufcient preparation.
Data from interview:
It’s not very natural to communicate with someone coming from another -
country, you have to go out of your way.
This experience taught me that interaction in an international context is -
not obvious.
I thought she wasn’t interested, I couldn’t interpret it correctly, it’s normal -
for her not to show what she thinks, how she feels.
It’s hard to create a link with someone from a different culture.-
Data from questionnaire:
To interact in an international context requires understanding the cultural -
context from the other person’s point of view. This experience taught me
that the language barrier at times makes it difcult for you to convey your
ideas and requires a lot of effort from your side.
Communicating with people belonging to other countries and cultures -
might be sometimes hard, especially when it comes to discussing
complex issues and topics, but it remains very interesting and enriching.
II) Succumbing to the language barrier
“Construction of communication competence within a group
depends entirely on relationships established between the people
in the group”. (Fracchiolla, 2009:253)
Performance anxiety connected with speaking a foreign language emerged as
a recurrent theme. This is connected with fear of losing face and being judged
by the other party. Through their remarks we can infer that students perceive
how language use can threaten or enhance rapport. Some of the remarks below
reect the widely held misconception that it is important to attain an ideal language
level approximating that of the native speaker.
Language use in establishing rapport and
building relations : implications for inter-
national teams and management education
55
180
Data from interview:
If you want to discuss with a foreigner you have to master perfectly his -
language
I was shy because of English level, there’s a barrier.-
It’s difcult because they think our French is not good. In French I make -
lots of mistakes and maybe people thought I wasn’t understanding what
they were saying.
I’m usually nervous that everyone’s judging me.-
He called me on the phone for an appointment, but I’m not comfortable -
speaking on the phone.
We don’t dare take the rst step, we’re afraid not to be understood. It -
may be taken as aggressive, we don’t know each other enough to make
the rst step.
III) Overcoming the language barrier
“A bilingual person is not two mono-lingual in one person, but
has an original language competency, integrating in a complex
and creative way systems coming from two or more languages.”
(Pekaret Doehler: 2009:29)
Some students showed that they understood the importance of questioning
language identity and the value of drawing on all their language and cultural
resources when adapting their speech mode to the person with whom they are
interacting.
Data from interview:
I learned to always take into consideration other cultures, other people -
that could bring different ideas, we always have to listen carefully.
The same word may mean different things and it’s confusing. I could tell -
she didn’t understand so I spoke more slowly and explained.
German and French took more time so we switched to English.-
Data from questionnaire:
It was easy to communicate even if our foreign languages aren’t perfect. -
Languages become a tool for exchanging information.
IV) Shedding language and cultural reexes
Pointing out and acknowledging cultural differences…(are) clearly
aimed at rapport-building: (like) attending to the other’s positive
face by discussing good experiences with the other’s culture or
distancing oneself from one’s own cultural identity.” (Planken,
2005:397)
181
The students’ remarks show they understand the importance of being interested
in the other person in order to nd common ground which is the rst step of
relationship building.
Data from interview:
You really have to be curious, that is the key to get well in touch with the -
other person.
I discovered a new vision of the world, particularly of the French people, -
thanks to my tandem partner.
Data from questionnaire:
Curiosity and accepting the other results in a normal dialogue, only the -
language is different. In an international context, it’s not the nationality
that counts. If the two parties are humble and conciliatory then dialogue
comes naturally.
Cultural differences are no denite burden. It is always interesting to -
meet people with an international background because they help us see
things differently.
Nice to exchange with someone from a different culture – they’re not that -
different in the end!
People can live in 2 very different countries and still understand each -
other very well.
V) Understanding the learning benets
“Cultural and personal identity do not precede the encounter, but
rather they get constructed in language through the encounter with
others”
(Kramsch, 2009:235).
Observations in the interviews and questionnaires show that the tandem
experience has indeed led to a reexive learning process and indicates the value
of specically addressing these issues in a pedagogical framework. Although the
students do not use the scholarly terms of ‘negotiating meaning’ or ‘forming a
common culture’ the processes they describe suggest that this is precisely the
activity they are engaged in.
Data from interview:
Cultural misunderstandings do happen so you have to look for -
explanations.
When you are learning the language it’s not just about the language but -
about meeting people.
Language use in establishing rapport and
building relations : implications for inter-
national teams and management education
55
182
Data from questionnaire:
It taught me to be attentive to the other, to their experience. And especially -
that we don’t necessarily understand things in the same way, we have
different ways of understanding the world.
Curiosity and accepting the other will lead to normal dialogue, nally only -
the language is different.
It taught me the differences of priorities that people have in different
countries. Also it exemplies the similarities and differences in the
countries. Prejudices and misconceptions of the other country are
dismissed.
Conclusion and implications
This paper argues the need to re-address the language factor in order to enhance
team-building rapport in a multilingual/multicultural workplace. The traditional
approach which emphasizes the acquisition of language skills founded on the
dichotomy of native/non-native speaker has tended to overlook language use in
its communicative function as a whole. This emphasis has meant that the use of
language in enabling interpersonal relations has not been dealt with adequately.
The impact of this neglect is compounded by the failure to attend to rapport, which
impedes communication itself. We have discussed the implications of this neglect
in the workplace and through the example of a situational learning experience
demonstrated the importance of sensitizing aspiring managers to these issues.
Our study shows that contrary to the mainstream view of intercultural business
communication, knowing languages and their respective cultures does not
automatically guarantee successful interaction in a multilingual/ multicultural
setting. Each team-member has a role to play to ensure that meaning is shared
which depends on their ability to adapt to multiple contextual perspectives. To
do so, the focus must shift from resolving the problems that arise due to the
language divide to honing strategies to successfully operate between languages.
We point out the importance of establishing rapport to achieve this shift, and
the lack of studies on the role of language use to do so. Our paper attempts to
contribute to lling this gap.
Beyond the example of the tandem programme which provided the research
terrain for this study, there are practical implications for other areas of management
education. The culturally and linguistically diverse learning environments
of today’s business schools and universities offer scope for innovation and a
move away from a narrow focus on the traditional curriculum. Experience of
collaboration in multicultural and multilingual groups working on student projects,
and reection on and analysis of this experience, could be formulated as an
explicit learning outcome as it prepares students for international teamwork in
183
professional contexts. This research also has potential implications for executive
education programmes in international companies: seminars on interaction in
linguistically-diverse teams could lead to greater insight and innovative strategies
for managing communication.
Concerning the theoretical implications of this study, we contribute to the research
showing the limits of the over-simplied and static models focusing on national
differences which characterize the eld of intercultural business communication.
Building on the work of Spencer-Oatey (2008), Kramsch(2009) and Bargiela-
Chiappini and Nickerson (2003) we propose culture as a dynamic construct
negotiated in the course of interaction. We do this by drawing attention to the
initial stage of any interaction, namely the building of rapport, and the use of
language in enabling interpersonal communication.
Finally, it is worth noting that establishing rapport is not solely a problem for research
in the eld of languages and communication. Indeed, ‘rapport management in
interactions’ has been an object of study for various management disciplines
(Human Relations, Supply Chain, Sales and Negotiations, …). However, each
examines the issues through their specic lens and their results are published and
their analyses discussed within a community of like-minded thinkers. Rapport
management is therefore needed here as well to stimulate the cross-pollination
that, we believe, would benet the entire research community.
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Tandem Questionnaire
Feel free to use English or French
Your name: __________________________________
Name of tandem partner: _________________________________
What language(s) did you use? _____________________ 1.
_____________________
How often did you meet with your tandem partner(s)?2.
Where did you meet? Please list if more than one place/venue.3.
What were your main reasons for participating in the program? 4.
Please rank your reason(s).
a) to speak another language □
b) to learn about another culture □
c) to help integrate student populations on campus □
d) to prepare for a future exchange program□
e) to meet new people □
f) other _____________________ □
Did the tandem program help you meet your objective(s) ranked 5.
above?
Yes □ No □
If yes, please explain in a few words in what way.
If no, please explain in a few words why not.
What has this experience taught you about interaction in an 6.
international context?
187
How can the tandem program be improved to better meet your 7.
objectives?
Feel free to add any comments and please bring this in printed form to your
feedback session. Thank you for your time.
Language use in establishing rapport and
building relations : implications for inter-
national teams and management education
... Global corporations need these teams to perform at their best (Butler, 2011) by reaping the benefits of diversity while avoiding its pitfalls (Stahl et al., 2010). Whereas multinational teams research has a long-standing tradition of studying the impact of cultural diversity on teamwork (Cohen & Kassis-Henderson, 2012;Vigier & Spencer-Oatey, 2017), the fact that multinational teams are also composed of members with different linguistic backgrounds (Fleischmann, Folter, & Aritz, 2017) has been neglected for surprisingly long and was described as "largely ignored" just a few years ago (Butler, 2011: 225). More recent work, however, has recognized the "primordial role" (Cohen & Kassis-Henderson, 2012: 187) of verbal communication in intercultural interactions and has focused on language diversity as a "distinguishing feature" (Chen et al., 2006: 670) of global teams. ...
... In most cases, English is chosen for this purpose, as it has reached the status of "lingua franca in business communication" (Nickerson, 2015: 390). If English proficiency levels are unequally distributed among team members, however, the need to speak this foreign language in team meetings creates communication barriers (Butler, 2011), gives rise to misunderstandings, lack of trust and team conflicts (Paunova, 2017), and constitutes obstacles for effective teambuilding and cooperation (Cohen & Kassis-Henderson, 2012). Recent years have seen a surge in studies aiming to understand the complex influence of language on multinational teams (Tenzer, Terjesen, & Harzing, 2017;Cohen & Kassis-Henderson, 2017;Karhunen, Kankaanranta, Louhiala-Salminen, & Piekkari, 2018). ...
... In more general terms, multinational teams are characterized by salient and potentially divisive differences between their members. Building a common identity therefore constitutes a particularly complex challenge for multinational teams (Cohen & Kassis-Henderson, 2012). According to Tajfel and Turner's (1986) seminal social identity theory, individuals define their identities by classifying their social environment into in-groups they seek to belong to and out-groups they wish to distinguish themselves from. ...
... Même si l'apprentissage des langues peut faciliter la communication, les membres des équipes plurilingues doivent faire un effort supplémentaire afin de se faire comprendre les uns des autres. Le simple fait de partager une langue ne garantit pas un sens partagé (Cohen & Kassis-Henderson, 2012). C'est pour cela que les compétences communicationnelles jouent également un rôle important dans le fonctionnement d'équipe. ...
... C'est pour cela que les compétences communicationnelles jouent également un rôle important dans le fonctionnement d'équipe. Ces compétences comprennent, par exemple, la capacité de jauger la maîtrise de la langue de l'autre, la compréhension du sens de la langue verbale et non-verbale et la capacité à écouter et à poser des questions afin de comprendre l'opinion de l'autre (Cohen & Kassis-Henderson, 2012). Même les membres d'une équipe où la langue commune est la même que leur langue maternelle doivent apprendre à communiquer dans un contexte plurilingue. ...
... Cela veut dire que même les personnes de langue native anglaise devraient être formées à cette version internationale de l'anglais (Charles, 2007). D'ailleurs pour les équipes qui opèrent entre plusieurs langues, elles peuvent établir des stratégies, telles que le choix de langues fonctionnelles et le choix de moyen de communication, afin d'opérer entre différentes langues (Cohen & Kassis-Henderson, 2012). Les compétences langagières et communicationnelles permettent un bon fonctionnement d'équipe. ...
Chapter
Les outils éthiques des multinationales à l’épreuve de la diversité culturelle
... Même si l'apprentissage des langues peut faciliter la communication, les membres des équipes plurilingues doivent faire un effort supplémentaire afin de se faire comprendre les uns des autres. Le simple fait de partager une langue ne garantit pas un sens partagé (Cohen & Kassis-Henderson, 2012). C'est pour cela que les compétences communicationnelles jouent également un rôle important dans le fonctionnement d'équipe. ...
... C'est pour cela que les compétences communicationnelles jouent également un rôle important dans le fonctionnement d'équipe. Ces compétences comprennent, par exemple, la capacité de jauger la maîtrise de la langue de l'autre, la compréhension du sens de la langue verbale et non-verbale et la capacité à écouter et à poser des questions afin de comprendre l'opinion de l'autre (Cohen & Kassis-Henderson, 2012). Même les membres d'une équipe où la langue commune est la même que leur langue maternelle doivent apprendre à communiquer dans un contexte plurilingue. ...
... Cela veut dire que même les personnes de langue native anglaise devraient être formées à cette version internationale de l'anglais (Charles, 2007). D'ailleurs pour les équipes qui opèrent entre plusieurs langues, elles peuvent établir des stratégies, telles que le choix de langues fonctionnelles et le choix de moyen de communication, afin d'opérer entre différentes langues (Cohen & Kassis-Henderson, 2012). ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Les compétences transversales importantes pour le travail en équipe internationale continuent à être beaucoup mises en avant, que ce soit dans le contexte professionnel ou de l'enseignement supérieur : les compétences interculturelles, la capacité de travailler en équipe plurilingue et dans une langue étrangère, les comportements responsables et éthiques, sont autant de compétences fondamentales. Or, on ne sait ni très bien comment former à ces compétences, ni comment les évaluer, les mesurer. Des innovations au niveau de la pédagogie et des méthodes de recherche sont nécessaires pour les appréhender et les développer. Dans cette communication, nous présentons une méthode novatrice basée sur des jeux sérieux informatisés servant à la fois pour la formation que pour la recherche. Nous discutons également dans quelle mesure les trois jeux actuellement développés permettent la mise en oeuvre de méthodologies expérimentales.
... Although language learning can facilitate communication, members of plurilingual teams must make an extra effort to make themselves understood by each other. Simply sharing a language does not guarantee shared meaning (Cohen & Kassis-Henderson, 2012). That is why other communication skills also play an important role in team functioning. ...
... That is why other communication skills also play an important role in team functioning. These skills include, for example, the ability to gauge the language proficiency of the other person, understanding the differing meaning of verbal and nonverbal language, and the ability to listen and ask questions in order to understand the other person's opinion (Cohen & Kassis-Henderson, 2012). Even members of a team where the common language is the same as their mother tongue must learn to communicate in a multilingual context. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Soft skills such as intercultural competences, the ability to work in a multilingual team and in a foreign language, and responsible and ethical behavior, are core competences in international work settings. They strongly contribute to the success of international teamwork and are highly-valued, both in professional and higher education contexts. However, it is not evident how to teach these skills, nor how to assess and measure them in research. Innovations in pedagogy and research methods are needed to better understand and develop them. In this paper, we present an innovative method based on computerized serious games used for both training and research. We also discuss the extent to which the three games currently being developed allow the implementation of experimental methodologies in the field of international management.
... Language plays a crucial role in managing social relationships at work or in our personal lives. Language use in business communication is therefore critical in establishing rapport for successful management (Cohen & Kassis-Henderson, 2012). Spencer-Oatey's (2008) RMM is used as the primary theoretical framework in this study to examine language use from different linguistic aspects in managing rapport and maintaining social relationships. ...
Article
Full-text available
The rapid digital revolution in recent decades has transformed conventional Word-of-Mouth (WOM) into electronic WOM (eWOM). The significance of digital emotion in eWOM has been widely recognized due to its influential effect on consumer trust. There is increasing research on digital emotion contagion, which refers to exposure to emotions on digital platforms, which evokes internet users' emotions. Drawing on Spencer-Oatey's (2008) Rapport Management Model (RMM), this study investigates the stylistic domain of RMM, focusing on the affective lexical resources that express emotions used by Malaysian hotels when responding to positive online reviews on TripAdvisor. These affective lexical resources were analyzed using Martin and White's (2005) Appraisal Theory. The findings demonstrated that the five-and four
... Some linguists regard language as a cultural activity governed by rules that are learned by interacting with others. They believe that environmental factors are quite dominant in language learning, as well as second language acquisition (Cohen & Kassis-Henderson, 2012). Besides, Vygotsky (1978), and interactionists, indicated that social interaction is significant in learners' learning process, where they acquire a second language through socially mediated interaction (Shabani, 2016). ...
Book
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Summary This monograph deals with the issue of language education as an integral part of corporate education, the importance of which has grown as a result of continuing globalisation, but which is scarcely dealt with in literature. The aims of the research presented in this work are twofold. Firstly, to map the present situation with regards to language education in companies in the Czech Republic. Secondly, to put forward a systematic approach to this segment of education. To achieve the first aim, a large empirical questionnaire survey was conducted among 607 companies of various sizes (micro-, small, medium-sized and large companies) in the Czech Republic. The questionnaire survey was constructed on the basis of the formulated research questions and the set hypotheses tested accordingly. The fulfilment of the second aim was based on a theoretical survey, involving extensive research of foreign and domestic sources, and on the modelling method. The results of the questionnaire survey revealed that a relatively high priority is placed on language education in companies in the Czech Republic, in particular in large and mediumsized companies. Large and medium-sized companies perceive foreign language education as an integral part of corporate education. These companies use foreign languages very often and require good knowledge of foreign languages from their employees. However, the fact that, on the one hand, companies require very good knowledge of foreign languages and support language education to a significant extent, and, on the other hand, they feel the need to improve the language knowledge of their employees, implies that a systematic approach is not applied. The systematic approach to language education in companies as proposed in this work can therefore help companies to improve their present situation and the effectiveness of language education as well. Resumé Tématem monografie je podnikové jazykové vzdělávání. Jedná se o problematiku, která je vzhledem k vysoké míře globalizace pro podniky velmi důležitá, avšak v odborné literatuře pojednávána spíše sporadicky. Tato kniha sleduje dva hlavní cíle. Prvním je zmapovat současný stav podnikového jazykového vzdělávání v České republice. Druhým cílem bylo navrhnout systémový přístup k tomuto segmentu vzdělávání. K dosažení prvního cíle byl využit rozsáhlý empirický dotazníkový výzkum realizovaný v 607 podnicích různých velikostí v České republice (mikropodniky, malé podniky, střední podniky a velké podniky). Na základě výsledků dotazníkového šetření bylo možno ověřit stanovené hypotézy a zodpovědět výzkumné otázky. K naplnění druhého cíle sloužil především teoretický výzkum a byla využita metoda modelování. Výsledky odborné knihy se opírají o rozsáhlou rešerši zahraničních i tuzemských zdrojů. Realizované výzkumné šetření mimo jiné ukázalo, že podnikovému jazykovému vzdělávání je v podnicích v České republice věnována poměrně vysoká priorita, a to zejména ve velkých a středních podnicích. Výsledky výzkumu přinesly řadu dalších cenných poznatků. Ukázalo se, že hlavně velké a střední podniky cizí jazyky vnímají jako integrální součást podnikového vzdělávání. Tyto podniky cizí jazyky využívají velmi často a také od svých zaměstnanců požadují velmi dobrou znalost cizích jazyků. Skutečnost, že podniky na jedné straně požadují velmi dobré znalosti cizích jazyků a výuku cizích jazyků značnou měrou podporují a na druhé straně pociťují ve velké míře potřebu zlepšit jazykové znalosti svých zaměstnanců, naznačuje, že není aplikován systémový přístup. V odborné knize navržený systémový přístup k podnikovému vzdělávání může proto podnikům pomoci zlepšit současný stav a tím i efektivitu jazykového vzdělávání.
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Full chapter can be accessed as preview pdf at: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781351121064. Full book description: Comparative cross-cultural management (CCM) aims to identify objective cultural differences between national and societal macro-cultures. This is done via comparing selected aspects of culture which are assumed to exist in all cultures, so-called cultural dimensions or cultural value orientation. This chapter discusses culture broadly, as “that complex whole” which involves all aspects of social life and the material world, as well as the technologies with which humans interact. CCM is not power-free, and diversity studies are not free of culture. If combined, these two premises bring about an intersectional approach to culture: the realization that power, culture and diversity categories are inseparable, and that need to investigate whether and how exactly they intersect in universal or culture-specific ways or both. Intersectionality theory, as informing our approach, stems from Black Feminism and has since then influenced (critical) diversity studies.
Book
Full introductory chapter and conceptual background can be accessed as preview pdf at: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781351121064. Description: This book is a collection of 16 empirical cases in critical Cross-Cultural Management (CCM). All cases approach culture in CCM beyond national cultures, and all examine power as an integrative part of any cross-cultural situation. The cases also consider diversity in the sense of culturally or historically learned categorizations of difference (such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion and class), and acknowledge how diversity categories might differ across cultures. Furthermore, each case suggests a specific method or concept for improving upon the situation. Out of this approach, novel insights emerge: we can see how culture, power and diversity categories are inseparable, and we can understand how exactly this is the case. The uses and benefits of this book are thus both conceptual and methodological; they emerge at the intersections of Critical CCM and diversity studies. All cases also discuss implications for practitioners and are suitable for teaching. Mainstream CCM often limits itself to comparative models or cultural dimensions. This approach is widely critiqued for its simplicity but is equally used for the exact same reason. Often, academics teach this approach whilst cautioning students against implementing it, and this might be simply due to a lack of alternatives. Through means of rich empirical cases, this book offers such an alternative. Considering the intersections of culture, diversity and power enables students, researchers and practitioners alike to see ‘more’ or ‘different’ things in the situation, and then come up with novel approaches and solutions that do justice to the realities of culture and diversity in today’s (and the future's) management and organizations. The chapters of this book thus offer concepts and methods to approach cross-cultural situations: the conceptual gain lies in bringing together CCM and (critical) diversity studies in an easily accessible manner. As a methodological contribution, the cases in this book offer the concise tools and methods for implementing an intersectional approach to culture.
Article
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This paper analyzes language diversity from a sociolinguistic perspective demonstrating how it operates in interactions between members of international management teams in multinational corporations (MNCs). A major challenge for teams composed of speakers of different languages is the building of trust and relationships that are language dependent. Based on published research and illustrative empirical data, findings indicate that language diversity has a significant impact on socialization processes and team building, influencing both communication acts and mutual perceptions. Results of investigations into multilingual teams using English as their language of communication show that many obstacles are encountered by native as well as nonnative speakers. There is clear evidence that if language diversity is to be a valuable resource for international management teams, the challenges it raises need to be identified.
Article
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This paper considers recent research on language effects in some international management situations, specifically, intraorganizational interactions, such as interunit communication and subsidiary autonomy, and in postmerger integration. Within the multinational corporation (MNC), the need for control and coordination has driven the move toward language standardization, in the form of a common corporate language, with widespread effects on management processes. Our analysis indicates that, while important, language issues have been relatively ignored but may offer a rewarding research avenue regarding the functioning of the MNC, with potentially important implications for management.
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sociolinguistics;qualitative analysis;communication;communities;ethnography
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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 improve creativity, innovation and performance, but if it is not managed effectively, it can have an extremely negative and disruptive effect. This chapter explores the challenges that the eChina-UK project members experienced during their collaborations and the ways in which they handled them. The members were diverse in many ways (e.g. nationality, subject-area expertise, professional background, age, level of seniority, prior experience of e-learning, level of fluency in English and in Chinese), but this chapter focuses particularly on the international dimension. © 2007 by The Hong Kong University Press, HKU. All rights reserved.
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Managing a large multinational team such as the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) project (ongoing since the early 1990s) presents numerous leadership, communication and organization challenges. This chapter discusses the challenges that occurred in the GLOBE project owing to: (a) the long-term nature of the project, (b) the evolving (growing) size of the GLOBE team, (c) the large membership size of the GLOBE team, (d) the virtual nature of the team's communications, and (e) the cultural differences of the GLOBE participants. Survey responses from 50 researchers regarding their experiences in GLOBE help document our experiences. Because these challenges will be encountered by other multinational teams, we provide recommendations for forming and maintaining successful multinational teams.