Webinar on language and knowledge work in multicultural teams

24 Sep 2022

Professor Tenzer presented her work on language in international business at the last GEM&L webinar.

Professor Tenzer presented her work at the last GEM&L webinar on language in international business:

Language and Knowledge Work in Multicultural Teams
October 4, 2022 at 4pm
Please find here the link of the recording.
Password: mHm$@%s5

To keep up with changing economic conditions and global competition, multinational corporations increasingly form multinational teams (MNTs) to locate and integrate diverse knowledge from all over the world. These knowledge processing activities rely on intense communication between MNT members. Language as the vehicle of communication therefore affects team-based knowledge work profoundly.
In this webinar, we discussed recent research on knowledge processing in multilingual MNTs. We explored how diversity in team members’ mother tongues creates evident language barriers if speakers lack lexical and syntactical proficiency in the team’s working language and how it creates hidden language barriers if speakers transfer their mother tongue’s pragmatic and prosodic conventions to the working language. Whereas evident barriers reduce participation in MNT communication, hidden language barriers impair joint sensemaking, thus affecting knowledge processing in MNTs.
We also discussed why language barriers in MNTs impede personal more than task-related communication and emotional more than neutral communication. These communication impediments hamper mutual understanding of the task and of each other, thus constraining the development of shared knowledge repositories among team members. These findings are remarkable given that language-sensitive management research so far has focused more on task-related and neutral communication, neglecting personal and emotional communication.