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Perceptions of intercultural communication in multilingual Swedish workplaces: Findings from a pilot study
Dalarna University, School of Language, Literatures and Learning, Japanese. (LSP@DU)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1281-6966
Dalarna University, School of Language, Literatures and Learning, English. (LSP@DU)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2197-1431
Dalarna University, School of Language, Literatures and Learning, English.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9706-0074
Dalarna University, School of Language, Literatures and Learning, English.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0530-206X
2023 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Contemporary workplaces are often characterized by diversity, involving participants from multiple linguistic and cultural traditions (e.g., Angouri, 2014). In such settings, participants draw on their rich cultural assumptions and values to co-construct meaning (e.g., Takamiya & Aida Niendorf, 2019), as language use and communication patterns have been found to be inextricably linked to different group belongings. While diversity enriches workplace interaction linguistically and culturally, it also presents “communicative challenges to many employers and co-workers” (Holmes, 2018, p. 335). These communicative challenges include increased likelihood of miscommunication, social exclusion (Lønsmann, 2014), and limited interpersonal communication (Tange & Lauring, 2009). While considerable research has been devoted to understanding intercultural workplaces communication, little research exists on the linguistically and culturally diverse Swedish workplace. To gain greater insights into how diversity may enrich workplace interaction and the communicative challenges employees may experience, this pilot study explores employees’ attitudes to and beliefs about intercultural communication in the Swedish workplace. The pilot study is part of a larger project on digital professional communication in multilingual workplaces in Sweden. Five employees in managerial positions in Swedish higher education and corporations were interviewed. We adopt a critical intercultural communication approach, seeing “culture” as a dynamic concept, which employees may attribute to self and others, and (dis-)align with in different ways. Findings show that: (a) language competence in English is seen as indexing general competence; (b) categorisations of cultures are prevalent: Participants often view culture as synonymous with nation and point at differences between groups as a challenge to achieve effective communication; (c) identity and face are foregrounded: Some participants feel like a different person when using a different language, while others see a specific language as a way to adopt a different persona or professional role; and (d) culture and language are used to explain group dynamics (e.g., feeling as an outsider or as part of the group), and as tools to actively integrate or exclude others. The material has raised our awareness about not seeing the workplace as a monolith, but workplaces may be marked by internal variation when it comes to intercultural communication. 

References   Angouri, J. (2014). Multilingualism in the workplace: Language practices in multicultural contexts. Multilingua 33, 1-9.     

Holmes, J. (2018). Intercultural communication in the workplace. In B. Vine (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of language in the workplace (pp. 335-347). Routledge.    

Lønsmann, D. (2014). Linguistic diversity in the international workplace: Language ideologies and processes of exclusion. Multilingua 33, 89–116.    

Takamiya, Y. & Aida Niendorf, M. (2019). Identity (re)construction and improvement in intercultural competence through synchronous and asynchronous telecollaboration: Connecting Japanese language learners in the United States and Sweden. In Zimmerman, E. & McMeekin, A. (Eds.), Technology-supported learning in and out of the Japanese language classroom: Theoretical, empirical, and pedagogical developments (pp. 111-145). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.    

Tange, H., & Lauring, J. (2009). Language management and social interaction within the multilingual workplace. Journal of Communication Management 13(3), 218–232.     

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2023.
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-47311OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-47311DiVA, id: diva2:1814811
Conference
NIC (Nordic Intercultural Communication) Conference 2023: Intercultural Communication with a Focus on Languages, Narratives and Translation. 23-25 November 2023. Dalarna University.
Available from: 2023-11-27 Created: 2023-11-27 Last updated: 2023-11-30Bibliographically approved

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Aida Niendorf, MariyaLee, JosephÄdel, AnnelieGarcia-Yeste, Miguel

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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