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Language Advice Networks: a form of social capital in the multinational corporation

Al-Naemi, Mai (2020) Language Advice Networks: a form of social capital in the multinational corporation. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis introduces the emerging phenomenon of Language Advice Networks (LANs) in multilingual, multinational corporations. As an informal network of individuals, a LAN is utilized on a need basis to seek and offer language-related advice, with the common goal of performing efficiently and avoiding more time-consuming traditional translation. Through three separate yet related studies, I introduce the LAN, its structural and relational formation, and the career implications of LAN engagement for individuals. The three studies entail both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Conducted in QatarCo (a pseudonym), the MNC’s headquarters is located in Qatar and operates with English as its lingua franca. I accumulated participant observation fieldnotes for 10 consecutive months, conducted 65 one-to-one, semistructured interviews and two focus groups, and surveyed 107 employees representing four departments. Study 1 explores how employees with varying degrees of lingua franca fluency deploy their intra-firm social capital to exchange – seek and offer – language-related knowledge, on a need basis. Using a mixed methods approach, I define the LAN, elaborate its properties and dimensions, and distinguish its structure from that of general advice networks. Study 2 extends the structural exposition by examining the relational dimension of LANs. To investigate the individual and dyadic attributes of the language advisors. I apply exponential random graph modelling to reveal that that the advisory role is predicted by a cosmopolitan mindset: ability to articulate advice in a manner understood by a culturally dissimilar counterpart. Study 3 uses grounded theory to demonstrate that advising in a LAN entails generalized reciprocity with career implications, including enhanced status, non-financial rewards, financial incentives, and sense of empowerment. The data also indicate that the relationship between LAN engagement and career success can be explained through two mechanisms: establishing a rewarding reputation and enhancing one’s intra-firm social capital. I conclude by discussing the thesis’s theoretical contributions to the International Business, career, and social capital literature, as well as managerial implications, research limitations, and future research directions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2020 Mai Al-Naemi
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Sets: Departments > Management
Supervisor: Lee, Hyun-Jung

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