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Shifting the faultlines of language: A quantitative functional-level exploration of language use in MNC subsidiaries

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  • Barner-Rasmussen, Wilhelm
  • Aarnio, Christoffer
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    Abstract

    The body of case study-based research on language in multinational corporations (MNCs) is growing, but its findings have as yet been subjected to limited statistical validation. In this paper we use quantitative functional-level data to chart language use in subsidiaries' communication with other MNC units and local partner firms, and to analyze some consequences of these patterns against the background of previous qualitative work in the area. Our findings confirm that MNCs are indeed multilingual, but that language fluency varies significantly across functions and organizational levels. This has important implications for communication, knowledge sharing and the viability of formal language strategies.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of World Business.

    Volume (Year): 46 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 3 (July)
    Pages: 288-295

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:worbus:v:46:y:2011:i:3:p:288-295

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    Keywords: Language Multinational corporation Multilingualism Language strategies;

    References

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    1. Eero Vaara & Janne Tienari & Rebecca Piekkari & Risto Säntti, 2005. "Language and the Circuits of Power in a Merging Multinational Corporation," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(3), pages 595-623, 05.
    2. Bruce Kogut & Udo Zander, 1993. "Knowledge of the Firm and the Evolutionary Theory of the Multinational Corporation," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 24(4), pages 625-645, December.
    3. Yadong Luo & Oded Shenkar, 2006. "The multinational corporation as a multilingual community: Language and organization in a global context," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 37(3), pages 321-339, May.
    4. Griffith, David A., 2002. "The role of communication competencies in international business relationship development," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 256-265, January.
    5. Janssens, Maddy & Lambert, José & Steyaert, Chris, 2004. "Developing language strategies for international companies: the contribution of translation studies," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 414-430, November.
    6. Denice Welch & Lawrence Welch & Rebecca Marschan-Piekkari, 2001. "The Persistent Impact of Language on Global Operations," Prometheus, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 193-209.
    7. Marschan, Rebecca & Welch, Denice & Welch, Lawrence, 1997. "Language: The forgotten factor in multinational management," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 591-598, October.
    8. Marschan-Piekkari, Rebecca & Welch, Denice & Welch, Lawrence, 1999. "In the shadow: the impact of language on structure, power and communication in the multinational," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 421-440, August.
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    Cited by:
    1. Klitmøller, Anders & Lauring, Jakob, 2013. "When global virtual teams share knowledge: Media richness, cultural difference and language commonality," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 398-406.
    2. Harzing, Anne-Wil & Pudelko, Markus, 2013. "Language competencies, policies and practices in multinational corporations: A comprehensive review and comparison of Anglophone, Asian, Continental European and Nordic MNCs," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 87-97.

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