Managing Linguistic Diversity in a Global Company: Management vs. Employee Perspectives

Dorte Lønsmann

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearch


    Sociolinguistic studies of language in the workplace have found that linguistic diversity may be a challenge in terms of communication barriers and social exclusion. In some organisations, introduction of an ‘English only’ language policy has been seen as the solution to overcome language barriers. However, creating a language policy does not automatically ensure that language practices change. So far, few studies have focused specifically on the creation and implementation of language policies. To remedy this gap, this presentation investigates how and why language policies are made, but also how the employees receive them. As such, the study assumes the dual perspective of management and employees. The data comes from a case study of Danish engineering company and includes language policy documents, interviews with communication employees, and focus groups with employees from three different departments.
    To gain insights into the management perspective, a critical discourse analysis of interviews with policy makers and policy documents aims at answering the following question: To what extent can corporate language policy be seen as a
    tool that is designed to bring about change in company culture? To shed light on the employee perspective, the analysis of the focus group data focuses on the factors influencing employees’ reception of a new language policy. Using
    sociolinguistic stancetaking theory (Jaffe 2009), the analysis reveals that employees take a range of stances from embracing to resisting the language policy. Factors such as individual English competence and the local linguistic
    ecology in different departments are found to influence how people position themselves vis-à-vis the new policy.
    By looking both at management intentions and employee reactions, this study sheds light on issues of power and resistance in the international workplace and shows how the mismatch between the two perspectives may hinder the
    successful implementation of a language policy.
    Jaffe, A. (Ed.). 2009. Stance: Sociolinguistic perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2015
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    EventContextualizing Linguistic Diversity in Institutional Settings workshop - Tromsø, Norway
    Duration: 9 Oct 20159 Oct 2015


    WorkshopContextualizing Linguistic Diversity in Institutional Settings workshop
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