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30 April 2021
The International Journal of Human Resource Management
Special Issue Editor(s)
Fabian Jintae Froese,
University of Goettingen, Germany
Hiroshima University, Japan
Deakin University, Australia
Language in International Human Resource Management: Current Research and Future Directions
Language shapes and influences people’s attitudes, social perception, personal identity, attribution, and intergroup relations (Krauss & Chiu, 1998). Given the importance of language in social functioning, language permeates every facet of international business (IB) (Piekkari, Welch & Welch, 2014). Since the turn of the millennium, a fast-growing research field has started to explore the role of language in IB (for recent reviews see Brannen & Mughan, 2016; Tenzer, Terjesen & Harzing, 2017; Karhunen, Kankaanranta, Louhiala‐Salminen & Piekkari, 2018). Studies at the individual level have investigated, among many other issues, foreign language anxiety and its influence on individual task performance in global virtual teams (Presbitero, 2020), and the social capital of multilingual employees (Barner-Rasmussen et al., 2014). At the group level, language proficiency issues were found to create power distortions (Tenzer & Pudelko, 2017) and present leadership challenges (Tenzer & Pudelko, 2015). At the organizational level, recent work has revealed, for example, the impact of linguistic diversity on social identity formation (e.g., Harzing & Feely 2008); and established the decisive impact of language on knowledge transfer to geographically dispersed operations (Peltokorpi & Vaara, 2014; Schomaker & Zaheer, 2014; Reiche et al., 2015), and on reverse knowledge transfer (Peltokorpi, 2015; Peltokorpi & Yamao, 2017).
Whereas language has been extensively studied from an IB and organizational behavior perspective, we know less about the role of language for international human resource management (IHRM). Prior studies have indicated the importance of language-sensitive recruitment and promotions (Peltokorpi & Vaara, 2012, 2014), language training (Peltokorpi, 2017), and how language skills influence employees’ career mobility (Itani et al., 2015; Latukha et al., 2016; Pudelko & Tenzer, 2019). Studies have also explored linguistic influences on the cross-cultural adjustment of expatriates (Selmer & Lauring, 2015; Zhang & Peltokorpi, 2015; Froese, Kim & Eng, 2016). Despite these efforts, the theoretical and empirical focus on language “continues to dramatically lag the realities that employees face on the ground” (Neeley, 2017, p. 5). More research is needed to better understand the role of language for different areas of IHRM. This special issue aims to advance theory and understanding in this area. Studies that utilize qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-method designs and investigate language from micro, meso, or macro levels are welcome. Topics can be examined from different theoretical groundings and perspectives. Possible topics could include but are not limited to the following areas.
Language, international recruitment, and promotion practices
How could language-sensitive recruitment and promotion practices influence the attractiveness and reputation of a MNEs? How does language influence recruitment and promotion outcomes for both individuals and organizations?
Language, and training and development of global managers and leaders
How could organizations and employees in a multilingual environment guide the development of language training programs in MNEs? How could a corporate language evolve and develop? Should MNEs introduce corporate language policies, and if so, how should those be designed and implemented?
Language and global performance management
How does language diversity influence global performance management? How can the effectiveness of performance management between supervisor and subordinate in MNEs be improved?
Language and international career opportunities
How could language skills contribute to career mobility and career advancement? What are the linguistic barriers and challenges in international careers?
Language and diversity/inclusion
How could the corporate language shape perceptions that diversity and inclusion are valued in MNEs? Could language serve as a marker of organizational identity and inclusion? What kind of language policies support international talent attraction and retention?
Language, team work/collaboration and workplace culture
How could familiarity with the corporate language enhance inter-team work and collaboration? How could language shape workplace culture and climate? How could language be utilized as a source of power for host country national employees in MNEs? How could the politics of language influence group dynamics in organizations?
Language and sustainability
How could language be utilized in championing sustainability among HR practitioners? What type of language would be appropriate to engage employees towards sustainability?
Language and employees’ wellbeing
How do prolonged foreign language-based anxiety and cognitive load influence employees’ health and overall well-being? How can HRM intervene?
Linguistic gender marking and IHRM
How do languages that emphasize or downplay gender distinctions influence women’s choice of occupation? How do these grammatical features influence the talent pool MNCs can tap in different countries?
Language in managing global crisis
How could language be effectively utilized in managing employees who are affected by a global crisis such as a pandemic? What type of language would be appropriate to manage the uncertainties faced by employees and firms in times of a global health crisis?
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The deadline for submission of papers is on 30 April 2021. Please contact the lead guest editor, Dr. Alfred Presbitero or any of the other guest editors for questions and inquiries. Thank you and we look forward to your submissions!
Studies that utilize qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-method designs and investigate language from micro, meso, or macro levels are welcome.
Expected publication year is 2023
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