Language Strategy


MANILA, Philippines - Every company, regardless of where they are located, needs a language strategy to facilitate communication across global networks encompassing employees, suppliers, and customers. Writing in Harvard Business Review this month, Harvard Business School assistant professor in Organizational Behavior Tsedal Neeley argues that because English is the global language of business, industry leaders are making it the default corporate language as well.

"More and more multinational companies are mandating English as the common corporate language," Prof. Neeley says. They include Airbus, Daimler-Chrysler, Fast Retailing, Nokia, Renault, Samsung, SAP, Technicolor, and Microsoft in Beijing. And those are "just a few" of the companies" attempting "to facilitate communication and performance across geographically diverse functions and business endeavors."

What about cultural heritage and identity? Prof. Neeley provides two perspectives. The first is that companies have little choice in a global economy but to adopt English because one out of four people worldwide speak the language - 1.75 billion. And English is the fastest-spreading language in human history. "Companies must overcome language barriers - and English will almost always be the common ground, at least for now," Prof. Neeley concludes.

He cites an example involving two French companies, probably because the French as everyone knows are as culturally sensitive as they come, to the point of banning English idioms from television, motion pictures, and advertising. Imagine, he suggests, two teams from the two French companies meeting in Paris. The client company has multinational operations, and pulls in key decisions makers from around the world for the meeting.

Unfortunately, the selling team speaks nothing but French, and so the decision makers on the client's team can't understand the discussion. Sound farfetched? "This happened at one company I worked with," Prof. Neeley recalls. "Sitting together in Paris, employees of those two French companies couldn't close a deal because the people in the room couldn't communicate. It was a shocking wake-up call."

The Japanese come close and probably surpass the French in some aspects of cultural sensitivity, but that didn't stop the CEO of Rakuten, Hiroshi Mikitani, from mandating that 7,100 Japanese employees adopt English as the company's language of business. He gave them two years to demonstrate competence on a formal scoring system. Those who failed - the two years was up in March - risked demotion or dismissal.

Mr. Mikitani undoubtedly knew that the Japanese are among the poorest speakers in English in the world. In 2009, the year before the innovative CEO mandated the use of English throughout Rakuten - Japan's largest online marketplace - Japanese scored the lowest among 34 advanced economies on the Test of English as a Foreign Language, which all international students who intend to study in the United States must take.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Language Strategy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.