The Englishnization of Business: Does This Help or Hinder Teaching Global Business?

By Cavaliere, Frank J.; Glasscock, Kip et al. | Education, Winter 2014 | Go to article overview

The Englishnization of Business: Does This Help or Hinder Teaching Global Business?


Cavaliere, Frank J., Glasscock, Kip, Sen, Kabir C., Education


Globalization has been one of the most important movements in business since the end of World War II. The business education establishment, as represented by the AACSB accreditation agency, has been struggling to get its member schools to properly prepare their graduates for this new global business environment. It has generally been conceded that American business executives have an advantage because business people around the world have made English the de facto language of business. The term "Englishnization" has been adopted to describe a movement that originated in Japan for non-English speaking companies to aggressively adopt English in their workplaces. This article questions whether this is an advantage or a disadvantage to American companies and business educators as they endeavor to compete in the increasingly global arena.

Introduction

In his book, The Reckoning, David Halberstam chronicled the decline of the American automobile industry and the concomitant rise of Japan's, focusing specifically on the stories of Ford Motor Company and Nissan. More than just a history of two companies, it was, rather, a sweeping study of the decline of American manufacturing and the opportunities squandered by complacent management and business schools. This book was considered important enough to be reviewed in The New York Times by Harvard economist and noted author John Kenneth Galbraith. According to his review: "The Reckoning ... is a wide-ranging and revealing account of the sources of the Japanese success and the causes of the American failure, as it must now in all candor be called." It offers many individual stories of those involved with various aspects of Japan's success and America's failure, including one particularly telling anecdote dealing with a group of Japanese executives who while departing an American factory were sent off by an American executive who had spent time in Japan at the end of World War II and "fancied that he spoke some Japanese," but the result was inappropriate and offensive to them. The incident stuck in the mind of one of the Japanese executives interviewed by Mr. Halberstam for twenty-five years, who "decided that it was ... unconscious arrogance: Americans did not need to know the language of others; they could always do business on their terms" (Halberstam, 1986, p. 311).

Nearly thirty years after the publication of The Reckoning the story is much the same. Americans still do not consider learning to speak the languages of others to be a high priority, foreign business partners continue to condescend to accommodate us in this conceit, and American business continues to be seen as being in a state of decline, but this time the country on the rise is China. This paper will explore whether the well-documented acceptance of the English language as the de facto language of business by U.S. companies, the business education establishment, and a large segment of the global business community has been a contributing cause of American business failure in an increasingly globalized business environment.

The AACSB, Globalization, and Foreign Language Requirements in Business School

The leading global business school accreditation agency is the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business ("AACSB"). It has long promoted the importance of international business (or "global concerns") in the business school curriculum. Over the years it has even changed its name to reflect the increasing importance of the international environment: in 1997 the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business changed its name to AACSB: The International Association for Management Education (with no explanation for the acronym), finally becoming in 2001, AACSB International--The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. But, even after decades of being exhorted to "go global" that group acknowledges that the results have been less than stellar. …

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