How does language use affect relations in multicultural teams? A social identity and linguistic perspective

Pullin, Patricia (Haute école d’ingénierie et de gestion du canton de Vaud, HES-SO // Haute Ecole Spécialisée de Suisse Occidentale) ; Konishi, Mario (Haute école d’ingénierie et de gestion du canton de Vaud, HES-SO // Haute Ecole Spécialisée de Suisse Occidentale) ; Shan, Juan (School of Management, Shanghai University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China) ; Lupina-Wegener, Anna (Haute école d’ingénierie et de gestion du canton de Vaud, HES-SO // Haute Ecole Spécialisée de Suisse Occidentale)

The aim of this paper is to apply linguistic and international management theories to team interactions and effectiveness in cross - cult ural settings. First , in relation to language, we draw on pragmatics and politeness theory, notably with regard to relational practice (Brown & Levinson , 1987 ; Holmes & Marra , 2004) in English as a lingua franca (Pullin , 2010, 2013). Second , we build on so cial identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979, 1986), and cultural intelligence (CQ; Earley & Mosakowski, 2004). We studied multicultural teams (MCTs) with Chinese and Swiss students taking part in a Sino - Swiss Summer Uni- versity in Business Administration (S SSU) . The linguistic part of the study is qualitative. The main analytical tool is discourse analysis, based on the identification of patterns in audio - recorded data and interpretation of how and why these patterns occur. Initial findings show that the te am members use a range of linguistic strategies and practices both in nurturing relations and solidarity, in adapting to each other, and in ensuring effective communication. The data reveal sensitivity to face, for example in negotiating misunderstandings that originate in non - standard language use , without referring to ‘mistakes’ in language, or the use of humour such as teas- ing, and the exploration of common ground, for example through social talk. Finally, linguistic practices and strategies of the SSSU participants reveal a shared identity as well as some aspects of CQ. As for the quantitative part, a questionnaire was submitted to the SSSU participants to assess their identification with their home university and the SSSU, and their level of cultural in telligence. Moreover, they rated effectiveness and interactions in their sub - teams in terms of satisfaction, quality of outcomes, meeting expectations, and fulfilling roles and responsibilities. R esults show a positive association be- tween identification wi th the SSSU and team effectiveness, which is in line with the existing literature. Furthermore, we found a significant correlation between cultural intelligence and the quality of team interactions as perceived by the respondents. Th u s , just as relational practice, CQ helps improving team interactions. In that sense, high levels of CQ can make relational practice more effective.

Conference Type:
full paper
Economie et Services
Steyr, Austria, 19-20 May 2016
Steyr, Austria
19-20 May 2016
13 p.
Published in:
Proceedings of Cross-Cultural Business Conference 2016
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 Record created 2016-11-21, last modified 2020-10-27

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