Language attitudes and intergroup dynamics in multilingual organizations

Dajung Woo, Howard Giles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


This article takes an intergroup communication perspective to conceptualizing language-related issues in multilingual multinational corporations (MNCs). Language is one of the most salient identifiers of individuals and groups as well as an integral aspect of self-concept. Managers of multilingual teams and MNCs, where speakers of different first languages must rely on mutual interactions to achieve common goals, are likely to deal with communication challenges among many other managerial concerns. Adopting a corporate common language (CCL) provides MNCs benefits, such as efficiency and coherence, from standardizing employees' use of language. Yet, the fact that a certain language is viewed as "standard" or common - and others as "nonstandard" and uncommon - can potentially create tensions between native and nonnative speakers of it. To increase scholarly attention to this topic, we discuss topics related to language attitudes that can affect communication processes in multilingual MNCs. The implications of, and organizational benefits for, sensitizing managers of MNCs that have adopted a CCL approach to these intergroup dynamics are discussed. We conclude the article with future research agenda for cross-cultural management researchers facing the global environment in which organizational, cultural, and sectoral boundaries are increasingly blurred and multilingualism impacts both internal and external functions of organizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-52
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Cross Cultural Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


  • Intergroup bias
  • intergroup communication
  • language attitudes
  • language discrimination
  • language management
  • leader-member exchange
  • organizational communication
  • social identity


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