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Approaches to Language Management: Beyond MNCs

   Faculty of Management, Law and Social Sciences

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  Dr Natalie Wilmot  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Over the past 25 years, questions of language diversity have gone from being the “forgotten factor” in international business (Marschan ,Welch and Welch, 1997), to a vibrant field of study which incorporates a variety of areas of inquiry and methodological approaches (Karhunen et al, 2018). However, despite this burgeoning interest in the field, empirical research to date has largely focused on language diversity within MNCs, and their intra- and inter-unit relationships (Tenzer et al, 2017). There have only been a limited number of studies which have explicitly considered the role that language diversity plays in inter-organisational relationships, particularly those of SMEs and NGOs, which presents a fruitful opportunity for research in these contexts (Angouri and Piekkari, 2018). 

This study will contribute to our understanding of language dynamics in inter-organisational relationships by specifically investigating how organisations other than MNCs cope with linguistic diversity in their international relationships. This will build on previous work done by the supervisor, which has explicitly considered language use in SMEs (Wilmot, forthcoming). It will contribute to our understanding of language use in less-studied types of organisations, such as SMEs and NGOs. Accordingly, it is not confined to the study of organisations in any specific geographic region, and proposals which explore language diversity in under-researched contexts, including Asia, Africa and Latin America, are particularly welcome.

As this is exploratory research, it is anticipated that this would be a qualitative project, which could incorporate a variety of research methods including interviews, observation, document analysis or visual approaches, and thus knowledge of qualitative research protocols would be beneficial.

Funding Notes

This is a self-funded PhD project; applicants will be expected to pay their own fees or have a suitable source of third-party funding. UK applicants may be able to access the Doctoral Loan from Student Finance.


Angouri, J., and Piekkari, R. (2018). Organising Multilingually: setting an agenda for studying language at work, European Journal of International Management, 12(1/2), 8-27
Karhunen, P., Kankaanranta, A., Louhiala-Salminen, L., and Piekkari, R. (2018). Let’s Talk about Language: A Review of Language-Sensitive Research in International Management, Journal of Management Studies 55(6), 980-1013
Marschan, R., Welch, D.E, and Welch, L.S. (1997). Language: The forgotten factor in multinational management, European Management Journal, 15(5), 591-598
Tenzer, H., Terjesen, S., and Harzing, A.-W. (2017). Language in International Business: A review and agenda for future research, Management International Review, 57(6), 815-854
Wilmot, N.V. (forthcoming) Language Management in SMEs.
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