Crossing borders and boundaries: Translation ecosystems in international business

D. Eleanor Westney, Rebecca Piekkari, Kaisa Koskinen & Susanne Tietze

International Business Review, Volume 31, Issue 5


The field of International Business (IB) has traditionally focused on the crossing of national boundaries. In this
Perspective, we argue that organizational, knowledge domain, and language boundaries are equally important
for understanding translation activities in cross-border business. We integrate three kinds of translation (organizational
translation and knowledge translation from Organization Studies and interlingual translation from
Translation Studies) to deepen our understanding of core IB phenomena and pose new research questions. We
introduce the framework of a translation ecosystem for integrating the micro perspective of translating agents,
the meso perspective of organizational units, and the macro perspective of the larger social and linguistic contexts
that influence translation. This framework allows IB scholars to identify important but invisible boundaries
in cross-border business. The translation ecosystem requires the kind of multi-level research that has been
recognized as crucial for taking the field forward and offers the potential for making contributions both to IB and
to translation research beyond the disciplinary boundaries of IB.