Host Country Language: Why It Matters, and Why Expatriates Need to Learn It

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Chinese Management book series (PSCMan)


Language, in particular host country language, has been ignored by both academics and practitioners in expatriate management. When it comes to issues affecting expatriate performance, there is a tendency to focus on technical details such as the job description, task-related training and leadership style and to overlook the fundamental issue of language. In this chapter, we present the language realities of MNC subsidiaries in China with regard to whether local employees speak English with expatriates, and how willing they are to do so. We argue that there is in fact a strong local demand for expatriates to learn and use the host country language. However, given that Chinese, the language of this particular host country, is such an unfamiliar language, and perceived as difficult, we also recommend a range of strategies that allow expatriates without host country language skills to cope with the language challenges.


Host Country Language Local Employment English-language Skills Expatriate Colleagues Host Country Employees (HCEs) 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ManagementRoyal Holloway University of LondonEghamUK
  2. 2.Middlesex UniversityLondonUK
  3. 3.RMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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