Academic journal article Global Journal of Business Research

Communication Issues in a Multilingual Business Environment: Insights from Managers

Academic journal article Global Journal of Business Research

Communication Issues in a Multilingual Business Environment: Insights from Managers

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper presents the conclusions and implications of the research study based on responses from a sample of 20 manufacturing leader-managers working in the states of California or Florida. This research also presents recommendations for further action followed by a summary of findings. Organizational policies and procedures are in place to ensure standards are implemented for an efficient and safe work environment for all employees. It is expected that employees understand such processes so they can meet the goals of the organizations. Organizations that embrace diversity are able to bring unique talents and ideas that will serve clients' needs. However, when language presents a barrier to communication, then management has to weigh whether it is placing itself in a position to do more harm than good for employees involved. Two questions were fundamental to the research: (1) How do leader-managers share and transfer organizational knowledge to a linguistically diverse manufacturing workforce to prevent workplace injuries in their organization? (2) What are perceived challenges in sharing and transferring organizational knowledge in a linguistically diverse manufacturing workforce to prevent workplace injuries in their organization?

JEL: D8, D83

KEYWORDS: Communication, Leadership, Organizational Knowledge

INTRODUCTION

Organizations with a workforce that speak different languages can present challenges to the organization. The main difficulty particularly for management is the ability to communicate effectively with its employees. Organizations may see that having a diverse workforce with linguistic abilities could serve as an advantage to a global economy; however, literature presented asserted that linguistic diversity added complexity within an organization. For example, employees with limited English skills in organizations "places a significant expanded challenge on management, especially regarding communication" (Solomon as cited in Pierce, 2003, p. 41).

The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to contribute to the linguistic diversity literature by exploring lived experiences of a small sample of leader-managers in manufacturing environments. Twenty leader-managers from seven manufacturing organizations contributed to the study. Organizations and the location of the manufacturing sites are not referenced due to confidentiality.

Research identified the estimated total economic costs in 2004 of occupational deaths and injuries were $142.2 billion, with 120 million days of total time lost; 4,952 employees died and 3.7 million employees were disabled while on the job (National Safety Council, 2006, p. 1). Loh and Richardson (2004) stated, "In manufacturing, foreign-born workers' share of employment increased by 22 percent, from 13 percent in 1996 to 16 percent in 2001, but their share of workplace fatalities increased by 46 percent over the same period, from 9 to 14 percent" (p. 47).

The study included a review of the literature related to the phenomenon of sharing and transferring knowledge in a linguistically diverse environment, and the growth of linguistic diversity within the workplace. The increase of workplace injuries was presented as relational to the increase of employees with no or limited English proficiencies. Organizational literature was used to integrate the safety system as part of the organization's system and leaders' responsibility.

LITERATURE REVIEW

The purpose of this qualitative phenomenology research study was to explore how leader-managers share and transfer organizational knowledge in linguistically diverse manufacturing organizations to prevent workplace injuries. The increase of linguistic diversity in the workplace and the increase in the number of employees with limited English skills, or English as a Second Language (ESL), have been linked with a disproportionate rise in the number of workplace injuries (Brooks, 2003; Kalaroa, 2004). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.