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Multilingual organizations as 'linguascapes': Negotiating the position of English through discursive practices


  • Steyaert, Chris
  • Ostendorp, Anja
  • Gaibrois, Claudine


To address the complexity of multilingual communication, this paper applies a discursive approach to analyze how people account for the ways that specific languages are used in multilingual companies. Through our discourse analysis, we identify six different ways of accounting for language use. Further, we map the various tensions between these accounts through which we can understand how the rise of English alters the discursive negotiation in two different organizational contexts. Inspired by Appadurai's understanding of "globalization from below", we suggest the term linguascape to conceptualize how the flow of languages that cross a specific organizational space is discursively mediated.

Suggested Citation

  • Steyaert, Chris & Ostendorp, Anja & Gaibrois, Claudine, 2011. "Multilingual organizations as 'linguascapes': Negotiating the position of English through discursive practices," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 270-278, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:worbus:v:46:y:2011:i:3:p:270-278

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. 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;Academy of International Business, vol. 37(3), pages 321-339, May.
    3. 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.
    4. 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, May.
    5. 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.
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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. Zhang, Ling Eleanor & Harzing, Anne-Wil, 2016. "From dilemmatic struggle to legitimized indifference: Expatriates’ host country language learning and its impact on the expatriate-HCE relationship," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 51(5), pages 774-786.
    3. Tenzer, Helene & Terjesen, Siri & Harzing, Anne-wil, 2017. "Language in international business : A review and agenda for future research," Other publications TiSEM 8afd108a-9666-4fbb-934f-6, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    4. Aichhorn, Nathalie & Puck, Jonas, 2017. "Bridging the language gap in multinational companies: Language strategies and the notion of company-speak," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 386-403.
    5. 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.
    6. repec:eee:worbus:v:52:y:2017:i:6:p:831-841 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Tenzer, Helene & Pudelko, Markus, 2017. "The influence of language differences on power dynamics in multinational teams," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 45-61.
    8. repec:spr:manint:v:57:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s11575-017-0319-x is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:spr:manint:v:55:y:2015:i:6:d:10.1007_s11575-015-0259-2 is not listed on IDEAS


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