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Standardization and contextualization: A study of language and leadership across 17 countries

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  • Zander, Lena
  • Mockaitis, Audra I.
  • Harzing, Anne-Wil

Abstract

With multinational corporations increasingly adopting English as a corporate language, the issue of language management and the pros and cons of language standardization have been widely debated in the literature. Our 17-country study considers whether the use of English as a common corporate language causes difficulties. We empirically examine whether managerial reactions to specific leadership scenario-based situations change as a consequence of the language they use. Our results show that the choice of language (native or English) does not matter much for the studied leadership scenarios. Instead, leadership decisions and reactions depend more on cultural and situational context.

Suggested Citation

  • Zander, Lena & Mockaitis, Audra I. & Harzing, Anne-Wil, 2011. "Standardization and contextualization: A study of language and leadership across 17 countries," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 296-304, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:worbus:v:46:y:2011:i:3:p:296-304
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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.
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    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. König, Andreas & Fehn, Angela & Puck, Jonas & Graf-Vlachy, Lorenz, 2017. "Primary or complex? Towards a theory of metaphorical strategy communication in MNCs," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 270-285.
    3. Amy Church-Morel & A. Bartel-Radic, 2014. "" Not all multilingual teams are created equal " : Conceptualizing language diversity management," Post-Print halshs-01185822, HAL.
    4. Klitmøller, Anders & Lauring, Jakob, 2016. "When distance is good: A construal level perspective on perceptions of inclusive international language use," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 276-285.
    5. Youssef, Carolyn M. & Luthans, Fred, 2012. "Positive global leadership," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 539-547.
    6. Lauring, Jakob & Klitmøller, Anders, 2015. "Corporate language-based communication avoidance in MNCs: A multi-sited ethnography approach," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 46-55.
    7. Mette Zølner, 2014. "Voices on HRM Practices: Employee Interpretations at the Subsidiary of a Danish MNC in Bangalore," International Journal of Business and Social Research, MIR Center for Socio-Economic Research, vol. 4(11), pages 43-59, November.
    8. 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.

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