Academic journal article The Journal of Business Communication

Innovation, Corporate Strategy, and Cultural Context: What Is the Mission for International Business Communication?

Academic journal article The Journal of Business Communication

Innovation, Corporate Strategy, and Cultural Context: What Is the Mission for International Business Communication?

Article excerpt

A global economy requires business organizations to cultivate their international holdings by respecting the national differences of their host countries and coordinating efforts for rapid innovation. In this essay we first review relevant literature in the areas of communication and innovation and explore how efforts toward innovative practices are directly related to globalism and business strategy. We then focus on issues associated with national culture, corporate culture, and professional culture that are relevant to strategies for researching business communication in global contexts. Finally, we suggest directions for future work.

Keywords: Implementation Strategies, Innovation, Organizational Communication, Professional Culture, Psycholinguistic Research, Technology-Intensive Companies

Prior to the dawning of the new millennium, much was written about innovation, culture, globalism, and strategy. Commentaries on organizational vision, effectiveness, direction, and mission usually noted the necessity to innovate and expand beyond normal limits and borders. Inherent within discussions of innovation and globalism are issues relating to national and organizational culture, and to a lesser extent the professional cultures of members of innovative, globalized business firms. What are the forces precipitating such concerns? What role does intercultural communication play in formulating visionary and strategy revolutions?

In this essay, we begin by examining issues relating to the critical and dynamic nature of innovation, globalization, and strategy--concepts that have become increasingly ambiguous from their excessive use in trade and scholarly literature. We review some of the more prominent research. We then sample the literature on three concepts of culture that are critical to the task of researching global and innovative business communication: national culture, corporate culture, and professional culture. In our final section, we offer some directions where future business communication theory and research could profitably proceed.

Emerging Realities for Business Communication

We will argue, along with others, that many of the emerging realities for business (e.g., continual innovation, global markets, strategic planning, and technological change) have become so interrelated that in the fundamental process of developing a vision or mission, organizations often treat these realities as interrelated strategies rather than separate issues. It is no longer accurate or appropriate to strategize about innovation without an accompanying integrated discussion of global markets, foreign subsidiaries or alliances, and cultural issues related to international involvement.

Businesses in the 21st century face a wide array of complex opportunities including, but not limited to, expanding into global markets, developing internal and external innovative products and practices to remain competitive, and attracting and retaining the most talented workforce possible. International markets have become enticing prospects in companies' efforts to increase market share and diversify offerings. Market potential becomes especially salient with international trade alliances emerging across the globe such as NAFTA, the European Union, ASEAN in Southeast Asia, and Mercosur in South America (Ohmae, 1998). Beyond market considerations, innovation efforts in the United States increasingly rely on foreign resources (Branscomb, Florida, Hart, Keller, & Boville, 1999). Even research and development dollars that were previously spent almost entirely in the United States now find their way into foreign nations to the tune of $15 billion a year, 10% of the total spent on R&D (Branscomb, et al., 1999). As organizations research, innovate, and market goods and services in foreign nations, the level of competition from both domestic and international firms becomes more intense.

Maintaining a competitive edge in a global, innovative, and dynamically evolving environment produces substantial pressure to redefine how business is conducted. …

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