Host country language: Why It matters, and why expatriates need to learn it

Ling Eleanor Zhang, Anne-Wil Harzing, Shea Xuejiao Fan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Language, in particular host country language, has been ignored by both academics and practitioners in expatriate management. When it comes to issues affecting expatriate performance, there is a tendency to focus on technical details such as the job description, task-related training and leadership style and to overlook the fundamental issue of language. In this chapter, we present the language realities of MNC subsidiaries in China with regard to whether local employees speak English with expatriates, and how willing they are to do so. We argue that there is in fact a strong local demand for expatriates to learn and use the host country language. However, given that Chinese, the language of this particular host country, is such an unfamiliar language, and perceived as difficult, we also recommend a range of strategies that allow expatriates without host country language skills to cope with the language challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationManaging Expatriates in China: A Language and Identity Perspective
EditorsLing Eleanor Zhang, Anne-Wil Harzing, Shea Xuejiao Fan
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave
Pages55-89
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

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