- Term Papers and Free Essays

English as a Shared Language in Global Business

Essay by   •  January 22, 2019  •  Research Paper  •  1,303 Words (6 Pages)  •  447 Views

Essay Preview: English as a Shared Language in Global Business

Report this essay
Page 1 of 6

LITERATURE REVIEW: English as a shared language in global business.

Globalization is a phenomenon, that has widely affected the world around us. There hardly is a sector of our lives that hasn’t been affected by it. One of the largest adaptors has to be the globalized way of doing modern business. Due to globalization more and more companies have had to implement multinational ways of working in order to keep up with the competition. At the grass roots level this has led to an environment, where more and more people have to work in multinational teams.

While these multinational teams can be seen as a valuable strategic resource for companies trying to cope in multiple markets simultaneously (e.g. Earley and Gibson 2002, as cited in Hajko and Pudelko 2010), they also include challenges, if not managed properly e.g. Shapiro et al., 2002; Watson et al., 1998, as cited in Hajko and Pudelko 2010). It is quite intuitive, that when trying to compose a well operating team with people from different cultural backgrounds, conflicts might be hard to avert. This cultural diversity and the ways to prevent the contradictions created by the diversity have been widely studied (DiStefano and Maznevski 2000; Iles and Hayers 1997; Smith and Berg 1997; Chévrier 2003; Canney Davison 1994, as cited in Henderson 2005), but in order to fully understand the sources of these contradictions, it might be useful to similarly try to investigate the sources of cultural diversity.

While language is often considered to be nothing but one implicit area of cultural diversity (Henderson 2005), it could, and in my opinion, should be worth of an examination of its own. Even, when there is a widely recognized lingua franca, English, standardly used in most multinational companies and teams, there are some pitfalls to avoid. In this paper I will discuss the fundamental reasons of language diversity-problems; the difference between language competence, and sociolinguistic competence, as well as some already implemented and/or potential ways to tackle these threats.


As mentioned above, most companies have implemented English as the lingua franca, language used in most of the communication in their operations. For example, Kankaanranta and Lu (2013) state that the proficiency in English has become an important recruitment criterion in China, since the increased amount of internationally operating companies operating there. While this kind of requisite might seem to be a sufficient way to ensure the efficiency of communication, this is not the whole truth. Taking ELF (English Lingua Franca) as a granted way of communication, we overlook the numerous ways in which people from different backgrounds might have their “own kinds of English” (Henderson 2005). It must be taken into account, that every person in a group speaking the same language is not necessarily the same as these people actually understanding each other. According to Henderson (2005) this process of mutual understanding of spoken (or written) language consists of two parts: language competence, and sociolinguistic competence.

Language competence is probably most intuitive part language diversity and its challenges. This competence can be fractioned to well-known factors that have to do with the vocal (or written) output (or outfit) of the language. Language competence can be consisted, as Henderson (2005) describes, from things such as “the unfamiliar vocabulary,” “the speed of speech,” “the strong accent,” or “making too many mistakes.”

Behind this “outer skin” of ELF there is however a deeper, far more complicated net of different cultural significances and nuances affecting to the way people communicate with each other. This phenomenon, called sociolinguistic competence, and the challenges occurred with the lack of it, are described by Scollon and Scollon (1995, xiii, as cited in Henderson 2005): “Most miscommunication does not arise through mispronunciation or through poor uses of grammar ... The major sources of miscommunication in intercultural contexts lie in differences in patterns of discourse.”

From the two core competences of communication listed above, the first one, language competence is currently somewhat comprehensively being preempted (at least in most countries and cultures) by middle school English lessons, the latter one has, until recent years been a bit overlooked. However, recent studies, such as Klitmøller and Lauring (2013) or Kankaanranta and Lu (2013). Klitmøller and Lauring investigated (virtual) communication inside a multinational team consisting from Indian and Danish professionals and encountered challenges in both language competencies and sociolinguistic competences. They found out that Indian people tended to be more specific e.g. write longer e-mails and such, to the extent that the Danish people, used to being specific and compact found it even too specific, creating stigma between the two groups. The same was naturally described by the Indians stating that the Danes were too laconic. Parallel sociolinguistic contradictions were found between Chinese and Finnish people (Kankaanranta and Lu 2013) as well as between English- and French-native people (Henderson 2013), where the contradiction was about the balance of speech about “technical topics” and small-talk.


As stated above, the solutions for shortages in language competence have been pretty much in use for a moderate time now in form of English taught in school and indirectly by the fact that the basics of the language being pretty much a basic requirement for receiving any job nowadays Kankaanranta and Lu 2013). But the solutions for better sociolinguistic competences lie in a deeper understanding of differences in cultures, which are far more complicated than grammar or accent, and thus, more difficult to teach or learn.



Download as:   txt (8.7 Kb)   pdf (106.5 Kb)   docx (13.6 Kb)  
Continue for 5 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2019, 01). English as a Shared Language in Global Business. Retrieved 01, 2019, from

"English as a Shared Language in Global Business" 01 2019. 2019. 01 2019 <>.

"English as a Shared Language in Global Business.", 01 2019. Web. 01 2019. <>.

"English as a Shared Language in Global Business." 01, 2019. Accessed 01, 2019.