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The Language Factor in International Business

New Perspectives on Research, Teaching and Practice


Edited By Sylvain Dieltjens, Paul Gillaerts, Priscilla Heynderickx, Geert Jacobs and Elizabeth de Groot

This volume aims to explore what the field of business communication has accomplished so far and where it is heading. In addition to presenting new research, a number of the contributions included address the question of how business communication scholarship may be relevant to education and practice. While the multidimensional nature of the field does not allow a single answer to that question, the contributors generally agree that the ‘language factor’ in international business is an intriguing mix of communicative skills that are receiving increased attention across disciplines. The contributions deal with a wide spectrum of business settings, including leadership and management situations, gatekeeping encounters in a variety of organizations and through a range of media and cultures, oral interaction in the workplace, marketing and PR discourse, on-line communication, management, organizational and corporate communication, and, finally, global aspects of integrated marketing communications. Methodologically, it includes a broad range of approaches, including work in discourse analysis and ethno-methodology, rhetoric and document design, intercultural pragmatics and writing studies, genre analysis, e-semantics and sociolinguistics.


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Section 3: Persuasive Communication


ANDREU VAN HOOFT / TUYET P. TRUONG Language Choice and Persuasiveness: The Effects of the Use of English in Product Advertisements in Hong Kong 1. Introduction Diversity of marketplaces where products and services are offered to a growing number of multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural socie- ties, within and across countries, obliges advertisers to choose be- tween a local communication marketing strategy, a global strategy, or a combination of both, that is, a so-called hybrid strategy (Laroche/ Kirpalani/Darmon 1999: 280; Luo/Shenkar 2006: 328). As well as deciding on the content of the campaigns they use to approach con- sumers, advertisers must also decide between translating or adapting the content of their campaigns and their advertisements to the lan- guage of the target group, or to use more languages in a single ad, or to use the same advertisements in one language, for instance English, for all of the linguistic groups existing within a country or region, as well as across countries and regions. In the literature on marketing research, two mainstream posi- tions can be found depending on the choice they make regarding the dilemma sketched above: standardization or adaptation of advertising campaigns. The standardization group, with authors such as Levitt (1983) and Walsh (1991), posits that any adaptation entails higher costs and in this vein Jain has argued that “standardization should be based on economic payoff, which includes financial performance, competitive advantage and other aspects” (1993: 76). Similarly, com- panies often see language diversity as a cost-increasing factor (cf. Luo/Shankar...

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