The Multilingual Reality of Global Business Expansion
Treating language separately from culture has allowed us to demonstrate the pervasive, yet often downplayed or unappreciated, effects of language on the operations of internationalizing firms. As we noted in one of our earlier publications, ‘language is not just an “add-on factor” for MNC management, which can be readily dealt with through employing a company language, as important as that step is in itself ’ (Marschan et al., 1997, 595). Language facilitates and impedes communication, and needs to be regarded as a key element of firms’ international operations. If this importance is accepted, then language studies would seem to be more appropriately located alongside international business (IB) teaching and research. It could be argued that one of the reasons for the neglect of the impact of language is its typical separation from the business context. Language consciousness is less likely to emerge if it remains on the periphery for IB leaders of the twenty-first century. In this final chapter, we summarize key themes and issues that support our overall position on the role of language in internationalizing firms.
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