Perfection, hybridity or shutting up? A cross-country study of how language ideologies shape participation in international business
By Wilhelm Barner-Rasmussen, Claudine Gaibrois & Natalie Wilmot
Abstract: Employees’ participation in professional international business (IB) communication has important consequences for knowledge transfer and processing, a crucial function for multinational enterprises (MNEs). Research suggests that participation is shaped by language, but prior research has focused on firm-internal language dynamics, meaning that less is known about the influence of external context. We help redress this balance by drawing on the sociolinguistic concept of “language ideologies”. Language ideologies, or shared sets of beliefs about language(s) amongst social groups, are societal-level phenomena that employees bring with them to work. As such, they are part of the external social, political and historical context of IB activities. Our analysis of 82 interviews in three countries indicates that some language ideologies block participation and create friction, while others support participation. Implications for the conceptual understanding of language in IB and the management of internationally active firms are discussed.
Foreign languages in adverting: Theoretical implications for language-related IB research
By Jos Hornikx, Frank van Meurs & Helene Tenzer
Abstract: Given the multilingual nature of global business, language influences international business (IB) in almost all areas. IB scholars have studied the complex influence of language with manifold theoretical lenses, but have not systematically integrated linguistic theories. Aiming to broaden IB’s theoretical repertoire, we draw on a field that has integrated a rich array of linguistic theories with business perspectives: research on foreign languages in advertising. We review the theories linguists and advertising scholars have applied to their joint topic and apply content analysis to organize them in three theory clusters: ‘language as a symbol’, ‘language in the mind’, and ‘language as means of accommodation’. These theoretical lenses provide novel insights into the meanings and mechanisms of language, which open new avenues to scrutinize the role of language in IB. For example, theories on language as a symbol may add new perspectives to research on foreignness in IB or to emerging markets research. Theories on language in the mind can explain hurdles to the strategic use of language in foreign locations and support a more sophisticated view of translation in IB. Theories on language as a means of accommodation can advance research on cross-border legitimacy and on countercultural practices in IB.
Alike yet distinct: The effect of language diversity on interpersonal relationships within national and multinational project teams
By Komal Kalra and Mike Szymanski
Abstract: This study examines the impact of language diversity on interpersonal relationships in multinational and national/domestic teams in a multilingual country – India. Specifically, it explores whether and how the influence of language diversity differs in the two types of multilingual project teams. To this end, using direct observations and semi-structured interviews, we conducted a thematic analysis and found that native language-based faultlines and groups exist in both kinds of teams. However, such faultlines and language-based groups can disintegrate into smaller, regional dialect-based subgroups due to the emergence of dialect faultlines. Furthermore, evidence suggests that multilingual managers are more effective as boundary spanners in bridging the faultlines in multinational teams; at the same time, they need to be aware of the distinction between language differences and faultlines. This study provides the required distinction between language diversity and the role of multilingual managers in national and multinational teams in an understudied context, thereby contributing to the literature on language diversity.
Workplace accentism as a postcolonial and intersectional phenomenon: The experience of Brazilians in Portugal
By Martyna Sliwa, Roberta Aguzzoli, Chris Brewster & Jorge Lengler
Abstract: What insights can postcolonialism and decoloniality offer into workplace accentism? Drawing upon these two strands of literature, this article contributes to workplace research through proposing a view of accentism as an intersectional phenomenon, rooted in the historically sedimented unequal social structure and relations formed during the colonial past. Based on a qualitative study of Brazilians in Portugal, we identify two forms of workplace accentism experienced by the participants: (1) overt accentism – which involves an explicit, direct reference to a person’s accent; and (2) accent-activated stigmatisation – which occurs upon the listener’s realisation that the speaker is a member of a particular group (specifically, nationality). We theorise the experiences of accentism as contemporary manifestations of the workings of colonial power and prejudices. In addition, we distinguish between four approaches to managing workplace accentism: suppressing, confronting, marginalising and exiting. We theorise these as contemporary expressions of resistance strategies historically used by the colonised in response to colonial power. We also highlight the intersectional differences – along the axes of class, race and gender – with regard to individuals’ deployment of each of these approaches. The article enriches our knowledge about how colonial power relations continue to underpin discrimination and its consequences throughout the global economy.
Exploring the politics of linguistic difference: The construction of language requirements for migrants in jobs traditionally conducted by local native speakers
By Anne Theunissen & Koen Van Laer
Abstract: While linguistic difference has been identified as an organizational source of disadvantage for migrants, the construction of language requirements in relation to which these differences emerge has rarely been examined. Yet, this is key to understand the politics of difference. Taking a social constructionist approach and relying on the concept of the ideal worker, this article analyzes a case study of an organization that hires migrants for jobs that used to be conducted by local native speakers. This research shows how conflicting constructions of language requirements may emerge in relation to different contextual causal powers. This might lead migrants to be constructed as different and not different from contrasting ideal worker notions, resulting in their simultaneous inclusion and marginalization in jobs at the bottom of the labour market. Moreover, this conflict generates the notion of the ideal non-ideal worker, which may produce a hierarchical differentiation within the category of migrant workers.
Refugees’ language learning and career aspirations
By Maria Hokkinen and Wilhelm Barner-Rasmussen
Abstract: This paper extends language-sensitive research in international management by shedding light on the role of language skills in the integration and employment of refugees. We approach refugees as agents whose actions are shaped by their own habits, imagination, judgment and motivations, even while severely constrained by external forces. We explore how refugees perceive the role of language skills as a part of their employment and integration, and how these perceptions are aligned with and influenced by linguistic practices and expectations in the receiving context. Our analysis in the empirical context of Finland uncovers important variations in how refugees make sense of the role of language in their integration trajectories, especially the role of English versus local language skills. This is noteworthy given the strong current emphasis on local language skills as critical for refugees’ employment and societal integration. Our findings suggest more differentiated treatment and improved advisory services as effective strategies to improve refugee labor market integration
And here’s a book from socio/applied linguistics field:
Language, Migration and In/Exclusion in the Workplace
Edited by Jo Angouri, Julie Kerekes and Minna Suni
Summary: In today’s globalised world, large-scale migration is the norm. A contributing factor to the successful settlement of migrants is the ability to access work and economic security. This book focuses on the lived experiences of migrants who (try to) access the workplace, and explores the barriers and support they encounter. The editors bring together studies which look at the ways in which inclusion and exclusion from the workplace are done linguistically from historical, discourse analytical, narrative and language assessment perspectives. The chapters represent an innovative, holistic, intersectional and multidisciplinary approach to the subject, and illustrate a wide range of analytical methods and theoretical tools for the study of multilingualism and professional identity. The rich empirical data contained in the book cover a variety of professional contexts and countries, and the book will appeal to both specialist and non-specialist audiences.
The gendering of job postings in the online recruitment process
By Emilio J. Castilla & Hye Jin Rho
Abstract: Gender segregation remains a significant problem in many occupations and organizations. To solve this problem, many U.S. employers now seek to craft gender-neutral job postings. In this article, we investigate whether such employer recruitment efforts are successful in encouraging women and men to apply equally for jobs. Specifically, we move beyond the well-studied effects of the gender typing of occupations, organizations, and industries to study the extent to which the recruiting language used in job postings influences the actual preapplication behavior of job seekers of different genders. Using unique data from both a large-sample observational field study (Study 1) and a field experiment study (Study 2) of real online job postings, we first assess the gendered language mechanism by testing whether stereotypical femininity in the wording that recruiters use to advertise otherwise identical jobs differently influences female and male job seekers’ interest in applying. We then assess the recruiter gendering mechanism by testing whether the gender of the recruiter and the femininity in the wording recruiters use when presenting themselves to job seekers further contribute to gender job search disparities. Our analyses ultimately show negligible effects for both the gendering of job postings or of the job poster, and we therefore conclude that, in practice, employers’ efforts to simply tweak the language of recruitment messages do not matter much for gender equality and diversity.