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Paper info: Speaking in Tongues? The Influence of Language and Networks on Internationalisation


Speaking in Tongues? The Influence of Language and Networks on Internationalisation


Denice Welch, Lawrence Welch and Rebecca Marschan-Piekkari

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 16th IMP-conference in Bath, U.K in 2000.


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In the new millenium, the Internet and e-commerce are expected by many to change the way inwhich international business is conducted and the possibilities for firms to internationalise.This expectation raises questions regarding the process of internationalisation, a subject ofconsiderable research over the last three decades. Much of this research has shown the patternof internationalisation to be one of incrementalism as a response to a variety of factors,including network development and psychic distance. The paper examines the issue of theimpact of language on networks and the process of internationalisation. A central argument isthat, despite the volume of research, the nature of psychic distance and its impact oninternationalisation has remained relatively underdeveloped as an explanatory factor. Wetherefore attempt to unravel the psychic distance package with a focus on language. The paperalso addresses the relationship between language and firms' internationalisation path, includingthe difference in approach of firms from English-speaking and non-English-speaking countries.While the use of the Internet may facilitate many aspects of international communication andcommerce, we argue that different languages and different levels of language competence maywell distort these effects. Consequently, it will be difficult to anticipate exactly howinternationalisation is likely to evolve in the new e-world.