Linguistic and cultural barriers to intercultural communication in foreign subsidiaries

  • Peltokorpi V
  • Clausen L
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This study examines the causes and consequences of linguistic and cultural barriers to inter-cultural communication in Nordic subsidiaries in Japan. Interviews with 30 Nordic (Finland; Denmark; Norway and Sweden) expatriates and 29 Japanese employees show that the main linguistic barriers to intercultural communication were lack of a shared language and low motivation to improve foreign-language proficiency. The main cultural barriers were collectivism; and status and power differences. Combined; the consequences of these barriers were extensive reliance on language intermediaries; information filtering; in-group/outgroup categorization; receiver-centred communication and incongruent supervisorsubordinate expectations. The interviews suggest that linguistic and cultural barriers have a differentiated impact on intercultural communication.

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  • Vesa Peltokorpi

  • Lisbeth Clausen

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