Communicating in a second language in the corporate world

University essay from IT-universitetet i Göteborg/Tillämpad informationsteknologi

Abstract: PurposeGlobalization is occurring around the world in a rapid pace with a rising number of companies operating globally, and therefore employing individuals from different countries that needs to work across borders to reach common goals as one cohesive unit. To facilitate cooperation English is used as a common corporate language for a numerous of global companies, but a majority of the employees have other native languages than English which can lead difference in competence and ability when communicating. This leads to the purpose and main question of this study which is “what is the impact of communication, within a global company, when participants from different countries communicate in a language other than their native language?”Theory/former studies:Research and literature revised in the study is concerning globalization and global companies, communication and language, bilingualism and multilingualism, English as a lingua franca, culture and cultural differences, company culture and intercultural communication.MethodTo gain an insight into the experience of communicating in a second language in the professional setting one semi structured group interview with four respondents and six structured individual interviews was conducted within one team from a global company.Results:The results from the data collected revealed that less misunderstandings is perceived between second language communicators using English than when second language speakers are communicating with native speakers. The level of fluency has an impact on communication and the importance of correct translations is of essence. The use of a common corporate language facilitates a group feeling and a more equal level is experienced. A specific “Company X-English” that is based on the company culture rather than on a country’s culture has emerged and that even though language clearly influences communication in a global company cultural differences are far more challenging.

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