The Language of Global SuccessHow a Common Tongue Transforms Multinational Organizations

The Language of Global SuccessHow a Common Tongue Transforms Multinational Organizations

Tsedal Neeley

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780691196121

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Abstract

For nearly three decades, English has been the lingua franca of cross-border business, yet studies on global language strategies have been scarce. Providing a rare behind-the-scenes look at the high-tech giant Rakuten in the five years following its English mandate, this book explores how language shapes the ways in which employees in global organizations communicate and negotiate linguistic and cultural differences. Drawing on 650 interviews conducted across Rakuten's locations around the world, the book argues that an organization's lingua franca is the catalyst by which all employees become some kind of “expat”—detached from their native tongue or culture. Demonstrating that language can serve as the conduit for an unfamiliar culture, often in unexpected ways, the book uncovers how all organizations might integrate language effectively to tap into the promise of globalization.