Language in International Business

Language in International Business

The Multilingual Reality of Global Business Expansion

Rebecca Piekkari, Denice E. Welch and Lawrence S. Welch

Language matters in international business and global business expansion inevitably mean encountering challenges of communication, language and translation. This book presents a thorough and rigorous analysis of language related to all aspects of global business – international management, networks, HRM, international marketing, strategy and foreign operations modes.

Chapter 6: Language and human resource management

Rebecca Piekkari, Denice E. Welch and Lawrence S. Welch

Subjects: business and management, international business, strategic management


This chapter is concerned with the human resource management (HRM) aspects of language within the internationalizing firm. For readers less familiar with HRM, the HR department is the functional area usually delegated responsibility for managing the activities relating to employees–hat used to be called personnel management. Starting in the USA in the early 1980s, the term ‘human resource management’ gradually replaced ‘personnel’ as the HR profession sought a more strategic role, arguing that people management should be regarded as an integral part of organizational decision-making. The use of the term human resource management has now become almost universal. Traditionally, the HR function is concerned with activities such as recruitment, selection, training and career pathing, health and safety; and ensuring that the firm adheres to legal obligations pertaining to employment (what some HR authors refer to as the policing role; see, for example, Ulrich, 1997). Often, HR managers handle the retrenchment of employees due to managerial actions such as plant closure, or as a result of a merger/acquisition. In addition, the HR department may be involved in developing a code of ethical conduct as part of the firm’s approach to corporate social responsibility to all its stakeholders.

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