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School of Business | Department of Communication | International Business Communication | 2014
Thesis number: 13673
The myth of common corporate language - a case study of a Finnish MNC's customer support team
Author: Forsbom, Anja
Title: The myth of common corporate language - a case study of a Finnish MNC's customer support team
Year: 2014  Language: eng
Department: Department of Communication
Academic subject: International Business Communication
Index terms: viestintä; communication; yritysviestintä; business communication; kansainvälinen; international
Pages: 84
Full text:
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Key terms: common corporate language,; corporate language,; language policy,; multinational company (MNC),; ELF,; BELF,; local foreign language,; parent company language,; language switches,; international business communication,; internal interpersonal communication
Objective of the Study:

The objective of this study is to conduct an in-depth analysis of communicational patterns within a single team of a Finnish multinational company, being the customer support team in the case company. Moreover, the study investigates internal interpersonal communication practices in absence of a written language policy. The aim of this study is to contribute to a deeper understanding of the importance of and challenges in CCL communication in MNCs. The research questions examine (1) the corporate language, (2) the use of corporate language, (3) the situations of language switches and (4) employees' opinions of language switches in the case company's customer support team.


The study was based on a case study approach conducted as a qualitative research in the customer support team of a Finnish MNC. The data for the study was collected by interviewing 6 customer support team members (3 Finns and 3 internationals) and the internal communication manager. The data was analyzed with qualitative methods and categorized according to the research questions.


The findings of this study indicate that the common corporate language was a myth for most of the customer support team members in the case company. The case company practiced an indirect communication approach for corporate language issues meaning that the employees learned about the common corporate language through colleagues or by deducing about it from the context of situations. The indirect communication approach was determined to be ineffective. Moreover, the study showed that the case company lacked conformity in the communication of instructions on the common corporate language and that it did not specify any guidelines, neither in oral nor in written form. Furthermore, an affirmative attitude was expressed towards the use of other languages. In addition, a series of various situations of language switches from English to Finnish was detected that covered private and work-related conversations and included situations in which international employees were passively present as well as involved. The analysis of the customer support team members' opinions of language switches illustrated that both internationals and Finns had concerns that ranged from isolation of international colleagues to the hindrance of spread of tacit knowledge and negative effects on the team spirit.
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