Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 321–339 | Cite as

The multinational corporation as a multilingual community: Language and organization in a global context

  • Yadong LuoEmail author
  • Oded Shenkar


This paper develops a framework for analyzing the multinational corporation (MNC) as a multilingual community in which parent functional language and subunit functional languages are concurrently used and recursively linked through an intra-corporate communication network. The unit, breadth and intensity of an MNC's language system are designed to apply global strategies within the context of evolving environmental and organizational realities. To the extent that language design is the product of deliberate choice, we suggest that headquarters functional language is determined by the MNC's international strategy, organizational structure, and transnationality, while subunit functional language is designed in accordance with organizational form, strategic role, and expatriate deployment. Aligning language systems with organizational strategy and dynamics improves MNC communication, coordination, and knowledge-sharing.


language design global strategy multilingual system 



We thank Professor Mary Ann Von Glinow and the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments.


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Copyright information

© Academy of International Business 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ManagementSchool of Business Administration, University of MiamiCoral GablesUSA
  2. 2.Fisher College of Business, Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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