Multilingualism and cultural diversity

October 24, 2016

In the framework of the Changing Employment research training network Zsuzsa Arendas, CPS Research Fellow, publishes two working papers on multinational companies' practices of multilingualism and cultural diversity.

'In a corporate environment, we need to be inclusive'.
Toward understanding multinational companies' practices of multilingualism and cultural diversity

The aim of the present study is to give a qualitative research-based understanding of multilingual practices of a multinational company (MNC) located in the Central Eastern European region, in Budapest. The paper starts with analyzing the use of different languages, various company level practices of multilingualism, and opens up to wider issues related to everyday cultural practices related to cultural diversity of employees of such MNCs. Some of the literature in international management and business communication problematizes the questions of common corporate language used in such MNC environments, others focus on the interplay between different languages, examining the discrepancies between corporate language policies and daily practices between employees.

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'Every word has its special weight'.
A qualitative case study of multilingual realities at Siemens, Hungary

It is a generally accepted fact that multinational companies (MNCs) are typically multilingual due to their operations at different sites in various parts of the world, employing large numbers of local employees. However, to facilitate 'in-house' communication, and to manage the often vast linguistic diversity, they use a common corporate language, which is English in present business world. It serves as a channel, a link, or a lingua franca between employees belonging to different nationalities, ethnicities or lingusitic backgrounds. For an anthropologist, studying daily manifestations of cultural forms and practices, the instantly arising question is how the idea of a common coprorate language is implemented and used in everyday work-related situations at different sites and locations of MNC practices. How are the ’multilingual realities’ being shaped at the Hungarian unit of the studied company? What is the take of Hungarian native speakers on foreign language use at their company? How is the German management coping with multilingualism, if at all? These were the central questions this study attempted to address through using the lessons from repeated field visits and interviews conducted at Siemens Hungary.