Language, mode of communication and power: The factors affecting the types and effects of misunderstandings in global working

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Abstract

Global teams are a growing phenomenon, particularly considering lockdown practices which have made working at a distance increasingly normal. This doctoral study explored the extent to which misunderstandings develop in global working using the critical incident technique. Through the presentation of two cases, the study demonstrates that misunderstandings are more likely to occur in the presence of language asymmetry and when asynchronous media such as email are used to communicate as these do not easily afford calibration of meaning. The study found that once misunderstandings are realised the incidents was either contained or became damaging to team cohesion, leading to splits. Teams can manage misunderstandings through skilful use of technology and leaders avoiding blaming team members with lower lingua franca proficiency for misunderstandings rather than recognising reciprocity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 14th GEM&L International Workshop on Management & Language
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2021

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