Language in intercultural business interactions: A self-perceived power perspective.

Maria Ivanova-Gongne, Wilhelm Barner-Rasmussen, Lasse Torkkeli & Maria Elo

Industrial Marketing Management, 115, 312–326


Intercultural business interaction has received limited scholarly attention in business-to-business (B2B) marketing research, with language and culture particularly being largely neglected topics despite the literature noting their importance in B2B marketing. This study addresses this omission by focusing on how managers make sense of the role of language in intercultural business interactions. We also explore the role of language as a
potential source of individual power in international business (IB) relationships. The empirical enquiry focuses on an extreme case of Russians’ intercultural business interactions with Finns or in Finland before the war in Ukraine. The findings show that context and language, as well as translation power dynamics are intertwined, generating an additional level of power dynamics that emerge from the business per se. Language particularly influences self-perceived power in business relationships and can lead to dependence or frustration due to linguistic limitations. The study contributes to research on B2B marketing and IB by highlighting that individuallevel exposure to intercultural business interactions entails significant linguistic challenges that cannot be solved only by using English. Specifically, it contributes to addressing the issue of language in use, which has rarely been examined in the literature on intercultural interaction in the B2B environment.