In this paper, we focus on the role of language in cross-border mergers and acquisitions and explore how organization members’ language skills, or fluency, in the adopted lingua franca may impact their reactions to a merger. Drawing on a qualitative study of the post-merger integration between a French and Dutch airline where English was adopted as a lingua franca, we illustrate how language fluency influences the ability of individuals to give meaning to their changed circumstances. Moreover, we elaborate on how language fluency indexes social groupings and identities, and may thus be a driver of perceptions of status inequality and identity politics between different groups of employees. With our study we draw attention to the multi-faceted role of English as a lingua franca. Our findings also contribute to research on sociocultural dynamics associated with post-merger integration and the role of language in mergers and acquisitions, as well as in multinational companies more generally.
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These units focus on servicing international clients and Dutchco members within these units were ‘living the merger’ in their daily jobs as they had to interact with Frenchco members on a daily basis.
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We are greatly indebted to editor Joachim Wolf and the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive guidance in our paper’s revision process. We also thank Niels Noorderhaven and Alma Timmers for their role in the data collection process.
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Kroon, D.P., Cornelissen, J.P. & Vaara, E. Explaining Employees’ Reactions towards a Cross-Border Merger: The Role of English Language Fluency. Manag Int Rev 55, 775–800 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11575-015-0259-2
- English language fluency
- Cross-border mergers and acquisitions
- Identity politics
- Status attributions
- Perceived anxiety
- Post-merger integration