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Is English Enough?

Is English Enough?

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Is English Enough?

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  1. Is English Enough? Strategies for Dealing with Foreign Language Encounters in the Financial Sector Mary Fischer March 2012

  2. The Research Context • Languages in Multinational Companies • English as a Business Lingua Franca • Why Language Policies are important • Language as barrier, facilitator, source of power (Marschan-Piekkari et al., 1999) • Areas where the language barrier has the greatest impact: • Buyer/seller relationships, foreign market expansion, HQ subsidiary relationship and staffing policies (Feely and Harzing, 2003) • Language research in the UK/Anglophone countries

  3. Language Policy Research in the UK • Initially triggered by the establishment of the European Single Market. • Language Audits (e.g. Hagen, 2004) • Export Performance in SMEs (e.g. Hagen, 1998; Crick, 1999) • Language skills as a quantifiable asset (e.g. Dhir, 2004; Foreman-Peck, 2007) • Surveys of good practice (e.g. Feely and Winslow, 2005)

  4. Is English Enough? • Pilot sample of four UK Fund Managers • Research focus: • The language barrier: How do companies research and deal with colleagues/clients in non English speaking environments? • How aware are the companies of any intercultural issues? • Are the companies aware of any issues with the use of English? • Does recruitment policy reflect their international (multi-lingual) focus?

  5. The Language Barrier • Language use in investment management • Strategies for overcoming the language barrier: • Interpreters and translators • Using ‘bridge’ individuals, typically a bi-lingual colleague who sets up the relationships and hands them over to monolingual colleagues when they are established • Utilising the language skills of native speakers in house • Training

  6. Intercultural Issues • Formal intercultural training • Use of consultants • Informal methods

  7. Problems with the use of English ‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.’ (Nelson Mandela) • Local language needed for relationship-building • Preference for local languages in some markets • Problems caused in meetings using interpreters • Varying levels of English by non-native speakers

  8. Language Policy and Recruitment Language not a criterion for recruitment Criteria included • Technical skills • First class degree • Evidence of rounded personality There is evidence that these skills and the required international outlook are provided by non UK nationals who also (indirectly) bring language skills.

  9. Conclusions • The dominance of English is based on historical circumstances which all companies agreed were now changing. • There were inherent contradictions in what was said about language use. • All admitted that there is an increasing requirement to use the local language in certain markets. • UK graduates may be losing out because they are less likely to be able to demonstrate evidence of a ‘global mindset’ – language skills are being increasingly ‘outsourced’.

  10. References Brannen, M.Y. (2004) ‘When Mickey loses face: recontextualisation, semantic fit, and the semiotics of foreignness’, Academy of Management Review 29 (4): 593-616. Crick, D. (1999), ‘An investigation into SMEs use of languages in their export operations’ International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research 5 (1): 19-31. Dhir, K.S. (2005), ‘The value of language: concept, perspectives and policies’, Corporate Communications: An International Journal 10 (4): 358-382. Feely, Alan J. and Harzing, A. (2003) ‘Language Management in Multinational Companies’, Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal 10 (2): 37-52. Feely, A and Winslow, J. D. (2005), Talking sense, a research study of language skills management in major companies. CILT. Crick, 1999

  11. Foreman-Peck, J. (2007), Costing Babel: the Contribution of Language Skills to Exporting and Productivity in the UK, Welsh Institute for Research in Economics and Development, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff. Hagen, S. (1998), Languages in Business. An Analysis of Current Needs, Newcastle Polytechnic, Newcastle. Hagen, S (2004), Language and Culture in British Business: Communication, needs and strategies, London, CILT. Marschan-Piekkari, R., Welch, D. and Welch, L. (1999) ‘In the shadow: the impact of language on structure, power and communication in the multinational’, International Business Review 8: 421-440. Usunier, J-C. (2011), ‘Language as a resource to assess cross-cultural equivalence in quantitative management research’, Journal of World Business 46 (3): 314-319.