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Language as a Leading Light to Business Cultural Insight: A Study on Expatriates' Intercultural Communication in Central and Eastern Europe
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Business.
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Language competence is decisively important in international business and could increase efficacy, efficiency, sales and profits. Language is an underresearched area in business studies though language constitutes management and the managers building structures, processes, cultures and personalities being the most vital working tool to get things done and make them understandable. Since 1970 Swedish companies lose market shares globally and in Europe. In an era requiring better foreign language skills there is a declining trend among young Swedish business people and students in other languages than English. The aim of this study is to investigate and analyse the role of language in intercultural business communication between Swedish expatriates and locals in Serbia, The Czech Republic, Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria and indirectly also Russia and Poland. To understand the business culture in these countries the author has learned the local language in these seven countries taking 3687 private language lessons. This improves the researcher’s understanding of the culture and its people giving directness and depth in communication, independence and receptivity. This ethnographically inspired hermeneutic study holds semi-structured interviews with expatriates. Better language skills among expatriates – particularly in the local language - could make them more self-dependent and win contracts and it strengthens closeness to customers, relationship and trust, strategic view and ability and also operational effectiveness and efficiency enabling their companies to gain market shares. Using Weber’s ideal types the cultural significance structures emerge featuring the cultures in these countries showing that expatriates have to strengthen the ability of the locals in the areas of trust, responsibility and initiative, independent thinking, holistic view, win-win thinking and reduce fear while the expatriates’ own abilities in these areas are strengthened if they speak the local language. Language strategies permitting the expatriate to be more communicatively and linguistically self-dependent are having a common company language, using multilingualism or having the expatriate speak or learn to speak the local language where the advantages, disadvantages and characteristics of these and other aspects of the role of language are given in ideal types.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: School of Business, Stockholm University , 2010. , 633 p.
Keyword [en]
Language, multilingualism, culture, intercultural communication, business, expatriate, Central and Eastern Europe, cultural significance structure, business flower, hermeneutics, ideal type, export, foreign language skills, language competence, Sweden
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-39620ISBN: 978-91-7447-101-4OAI: diva2:320989
Public defence
2010-06-22, Gröjersalen, hus 3, Kräftriket, Roslagsvägen 101, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2010-06-01 Created: 2010-05-27 Last updated: 2013-07-10Bibliographically approved

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Ljungbo, Kjell
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