Language strategies in Finnish small and medium-sized enterprises

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School of Economics | Master's thesis
International Business
Kansainvälinen liiketoiminta
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Objectives of the Study Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have scarcely been researched from the point of view of language strategy. The objective of the study is to identify language strategies of Finnish SMEs doing business abroad and to analyze these strategies. The objectives were met through a survey directed at Finnish SMEs and face-to-face interviews with five case companies. Summary Languages are increasing important in the globalizing world, yet few companies have language strategies. The EU-wide PIMLICO Promotional Project investigated in summer 2010 top- performing international SMEs, which have adopted language strategies and use them for business purposes. The thesis writers collected data for the project in Finland. This thesis was undertaken with the consent of PIMLICO to further investigate this interesting topic. This thesis is based on continuous iteration between data, prior literature and the emerging theory. The empirical findings and academic literature suggest that language strategies in SMEs can include one or more of the following components: 1) common company language; 2) language audits; 3) language training; 4) recruitment; 5) translators and interpreters; 6) agents; and 7) company websites. Findings and Conclusion The researched SMEs do not have written language strategies, but they do have bottom-up language strategies. These language strategies emerge through recurrent language-related practices, such as using partners for translation, having an informal common company language and the use of native speakers as valuable resource.
international business, foreign language strategy, small and medium-sized enterprises, SME, export, strategy as practice, bottom-up, translators
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