A member of the GEM&L for several years, Natalie Wilmot is currently studying part-time for her PhD at Sheffield Hallam University and teaching as a full-time lecturer in International Business. She started the PhD in September 2013 after working in export sales and global supply chains for both small and large organisations. Congratulations, Natalie! For more background on her work, continue reading below.
Language Diversity in International Supply Chain Relationships
My research aims to investigate foreign language diversity in international supply chains of UK organisations. Although the international management literature is now starting to consider language issues, the focus still tends to be on multinationals, whereas my research is focused on SMEs as they have to face questions of language diversity as well and with fewer resources than MNCs have.
I’m interested in how smaller organisations cope with differences in languages when they are working with international suppliers and customers: the language strategies that they use; why certain strategies are used in certain circumstances; and how this situation is affected by the dynamics of the relationship and the relative power that organisations in the supply chain have over each other.
This interest stems from my undergraduate and master’s degree studies, and is now an area of specialism in my teaching at Sheffield Hallam University. My own professional experiences in private sector organisations have largely influenced my research interests. I speak Spanish fluently and also some French; although after years without using my French, apart from GEM&L conferences, I’m now a bit out of practice!
The two main research questions that I am aiming to answer are:
1) What strategies do organisations use in order to manage language differences in supply chain relationships?
2) How are these strategies affected by the power structures within these relationships?
To investigate this, I’m carrying out research in five different organisations in the UK in order to understand how they manage these issues. I started my fieldwork at the end of May 2015 and am spending time in each organisation conducting interviews, making observations, and studying documents which have been made available in other languages.
After presenting theoretical papers at GEM&L for the last three years, I hope to share with you some analysis of my empirical work next year in Paris.