Exploring the language choice dilemma of international small firms: A social exchange perspective on English-only versus multilingualism

Sazzad Talukder & Wilhelm Barner-Rasmussen

International Business Review 33 (2024) 102257


In international business, firm-level language choices are important questions that require scarce organizational
resources to deal with external stakeholders’ diverse preferences. While language choices have a major impact on
the success and survival of SMEs, current knowledge of these choices is mainly based on data from MNEs, which
constitutes a research gap. We help address this gap by exploring from a social exchange perspective why and
how decision-makers in international small firms choose between “English-only” and “multilingual” approaches
to language. We find that when evaluating the cost and benefits of these alternatives, decision-makers aim for
high levels of both external and internal resource sharing. However, external language diversity