Schmalenbach Business Review

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 195–223 | Cite as

Foreign Language Anxiety in Professional Contexts

A Short Scale and Evidence of Personality and Gender Differences
  • Vasiliki Gargalianou
  • Katrin Muehlfeld
  • Diemo Urbig
  • Arjen van Witteloostuijn
Original Article


While increasing globalization of the business world and rising numbers of people working in foreign language contexts are undoubted facts of modern work life, there are surprisingly few studies on individuals’ emotional reactions to working in a foreign language. Facilitating further research, we introduce a short scale for foreign language anxiety that is applicable in business and other professional contexts. Additionally, we investigate its relationship with gender and general personality traits. Our analysis of survey data from 320 adult bilinguals with Dutch as their mother tongue and English as foreign language demonstrates the reliability of the short scale. Furthermore, we find that females experience higher levels of FLA, but that this association is mediated by differences in personality. Our study contributes to the emerging literature on individuals’ (emotional) responses to using foreign languages in business contexts.


International management Foreign language anxiety Gender Personality Survey 

JEL Classification

M00 M16 Z190 



We would like to thank the editor of the sbr, Prof. Dr. Alfred Wagenhofer, as well as an anonymous reviewer for their excellent guidance on how to improve the manuscript. All four authors gratefully acknowledge financial support through the Antwerp Centre of Evolutionary Demography (ACED), which is financed by the Odysseus program of the Flemish Science Foundation (FWO). Diemo Urbig additionally gratefully acknowledges financial support through the Jackstädt Center, which is financed by the Dr. Werner Jackstädt-Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Schmalenbach-Gesellschaft für Betriebswirtschaft e.V. (SG) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vasiliki Gargalianou
    • 1
  • Katrin Muehlfeld
    • 2
    • 3
  • Diemo Urbig
    • 4
  • Arjen van Witteloostuijn
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Office (LACRO)Panama CityPanama
  2. 2.Department of Business Administration, FB IVTrier UniversityTrierGermany
  3. 3.Utrecht University School of EconomicsUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Jackstädt Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Research, Schumpeter School of Business and EconomicsUniversity of WuppertalWuppertalGermany
  5. 5.Tilburg School of Economics and Management, Department of Organization and StrategyTilburg UniversityLE TilburgThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Antwerp Management SchoolAntwerp UniversityAntwerpBelgium
  7. 7.Cardiff Business SchoolCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

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