Economics & Finance

The Language of Global Success: How a Common Tongue Transforms Multinational Organizations

How one global organization’s lingua franca mandate shaped the lives of its employees around the world


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Nov 19, 2019
6.13 x 9.25 in.
2 b/w illus. 5 tables.
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For nearly three decades, English has been the lingua franca of cross-border business, yet studies on global language strategies have been scarce. Providing a rare behind-the-scenes look at the high-tech giant Rakuten in the five years following its English mandate, The Language of Global Success explores how language shapes the ways in which employees in global organizations communicate and negotiate linguistic and cultural differences. Drawing on 650 interviews conducted across Rakuten’s locations around the world, Tsedal Neeley argues that an organization’s lingua franca is the catalyst by which all employees become some kind of “expat”—detached from their native tongue or culture. Demonstrating that language can serve as the conduit for an unfamiliar culture, often in unexpected ways, Neeley uncovers how all organizations might integrate language effectively to tap into the promise of globalization.

Awards and Recognition

  • Winner of the 2018 Bronze Medal in International Business / Globalization, Axiom Business Book Awards