Much of the literature on language in international business (IB) has sought either to lay out the advantages of a common language or lingua franca that crosses the linguistic boundaries of a multinational company (MNC) (Harzing, Köster, & Magner, 2011; Luo & Shenkar, 2006), or to identify the imperialistic and hegemonic effects of using such lingua franca — which mostly turns out to be English — on actors in local subsidiaries (Piekkari, Vaara, Tienari, & Säntti, 2005; Tietze, 2008). In our view, looking into the relationship between globalization and language(s) is more complex than simply pointing at the proliferation of English and the effects of its linguistic imperialism within one global market place. Actually, there is within every process of globalization simultaneously a genuine concern about issues of localization and contextualization (Appadurai, 1996; Bauman, 1998). Also, increased mobility has provided people access to very fragmented and incomplete language repertoires, often consisting of spoken, vernacular and accented varieties of different languages in which they have differentially developed literacy skills (Blommaert & Dong, 2010). Such complexities between globalization processes and linguistic repertoires raise the question of how, until now, studies on language in IB tend to approach the notion of language itself and how they (often implicitly) think about the relationship between universality and particularity when studying language within globalization processes.
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