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Luisa Weinzierl

PhD Student

'The Emotional Impact of Language Differences in Multinational Teams'

With the pressures of globalisation, our expectations of communication are becoming ever more urgent. It is increasingly common for multinational corporations to form multilingual teams around the world (often virtually) and expect them to function seamlessly.

The reliance and importance of team interaction combined with the fact that team members of multinationals invariably speak several mothertongues presents a key leadership challenge.

To take this one step further, recent studies have revealed that negative emotions triggered by language barriers present a serious struggle for team leaders and managers. To date, the majority of studies have focused on the leader’s own ability to manage cultural differences in relation to values highlighted in the cultural dimensions. It appears that the focus on cross-cultural competence has deflected attention away from the specific issues of diversity dealt with by international leaders. When we consider the disruption of team processes resulting through language barriers in the multilingual reality of today, it is crucial that multinational team leaders grow skills to help their teams build mutual understanding across such barriers.

Luisa is carrying out an interdisciplinary, systematic investigation of which negative emotions are provoked by language barriers in multinational teams and how this impacts co-operation and productivity. In view of the lack of theory development, she is undertaking qualitative, inductive and exploratory research into the language effects of multilingual team members’ emotions to identify how team leaders can mitigate these emotions to create effective and productive collaboration.