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20 Managing communication in multilingual workplaces

Susanne Tietze, Hilla Back and Rebecca Piekkari

Abstract

This chapter is concerned with the constitution of multilingual organizations through acts of agentic communication. Specifically, it focuses on the role of translation and non-verbal communication which are still mainly ignored in many streams of literature that focus on communication. Drawing on a layered iceberg model of communication, we propose that the use of multiple languages, translation, and non-verbal communication are fundamental to understanding the constitution of multilingual organization, yet they often remain hidden, silent, and unexplored. We argue that translation permeates all layers of communication and is a collective management practice. The chapter reviews selected examples from different streams of research to demonstrate how multilingual organizations are constituted. We advocate that future research should include phenomena and consequences of English, languages, translation, and non-verbal meanings as they unfold in multilingual workplaces and mingle with narratives, discourses, and authoring of organizations.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston