Intercultural Communication: A Critical Introduction

By Ingrid Piller | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
Intercultural Communication at
Work

6.1 CHAPTER OBJECTIVES

In the context of globalisation,1 talk of intercultural communication has become ubiquitous in contemporary business communication (see Section 3.4 above for an overview of the exponential growth of the field) and the importance of preparing business graduates for communication in the global village has become a truism (Goby 2007). In The World Is Flat, a bestselling book about globalisation, the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (2006) pithily distinguishes between three stages of globalisation: Globalisation 1.0 was driven by countries internationalising; Globalisation 2.0 was driven by companies internationalising; and Globalisation 3.0 is driven by individuals internationalising themselves. Interest in intercultural communication is both a response to globalisation and simultaneously a facet of globalisation (see Section 5.5). I will therefore organise this chapter around three different phases in intercultural business communication, which coincide rather neatly with Friedman’s phases of globalisation. The emergence of the field of intercultural communication studies dates from the 1940s. Researchers were initially focused on comparing the communicative styles of nationals of different countries and, on the basis of those comparisons, making predictions about actual interactions (see also Chapter 5). This phase could be called ‘Intercultural Business Communication 1.0’ and its most influential author is the Dutch psychologist Geert Hofstede, whose large-scale comparisons of a small set of five cultural values in different countries continues to inspire research in intercultural communication even today. In the 1980s a new focus started to emerge and researchers began to investigate communication in international corporations. It is particularly multinational companies in Central Europe and Scandinavia that have been the locus

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