Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 45, Issue 5, pp 562–582 | Cite as

Translation in cross-language international business research: Beyond equivalence

  • Agnieszka Chidlow
  • Emmanuella Plakoyiannaki
  • Catherine Welch


In this paper, we problematise the way translation has been treated in international business (IB) research. We start by conducting an interpretive content analysis of both qualitative and quantitative cross-language studies published in four core IB journals over the course of a decade. Our analysis shows the dominance of a technicist view of translation associated with the equivalence paradigm. In contrast, we advocate a shift to a more contextualised approach informed by theoretical developments in translation studies. More specifically, we focus on two theoretical perspectives – skopos theory and cultural politics – which offer related but distinct approaches to rethinking equivalence. We conclude by advocating that the translation process be reframed as a process of intercultural interaction, rather than a lexical transfer of meaning. This reconceptualisation would, we argue, open up what is currently a “black box” in most IB studies. The contextualised approach that we offer has the potential not just to enrich the findings of studies, but also provide insights that are of multidisciplinary relevance.


language (language design, silent language, translation) content analysis qualitative/quantitative comparisons 



We would like to thank Mona Baker and Elpida Loupaki for sharing their expertise in translation studies – although any remaining errors are our own doing. We are also grateful to Jacqueline Mees-Buss, Denice Welch, Lawrence Welch and Paul Downward for their insightful and timely feedback. We received useful comments from presentations at the Graduate School of Management, St Petersburg, and the 2013 annual meeting of the Academy of International Business in Istanbul. We also acknowledge the Editor, Susanne Tietze, and three reviewers for their constructive comments on our manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Academy of International Business 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Agnieszka Chidlow
    • 1
  • Emmanuella Plakoyiannaki
    • 2
  • Catherine Welch
    • 3
  1. 1.Manchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUK
  2. 2.Aristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece
  3. 3.University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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