English used as a corporate language in non-English companies

Term Paper, 2014

12 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of contents


1 Definition of the term “corporate language”

2 Findings on the usage of CL in non-English companies
2.1 Kinds of non-English companies that use English as CL
2.2 Extents of using English as CL
2.3 Intentions of using English as CL
2.3.1 Staying competitive in the international market
2.3.2 Establishing better business conducts
2.3.3 Enhancing collaboration performance

3 Views of companies´ internal and external stakeholders
3.1 Customers
3.2 Business associates and suppliers
3.3 Managers and executives
3.4 Human resource departments
3.5 Workforce

4 Conclusion

List of references


Since the beginning of the 21st century, English has become increasingly popular with the business world.

This originates from the widespread use of English in the British colonies and the influence of the economic superpower, the USA. Since the Information Technology (IT) has been launching ever more sophisticated e-commerce applications and communication tools for web conferences, the way was paved for conducting international business online. Henceforth, even small and medium sized enterprises seek to enter the international market. This development made it necessary to communicate on an equal language basis with the stakeholders of a company. Communicating effectively without major obstacles can be achieved by the assistance of communication experts like translators and interpreters. Nevertheless, it might be more economical to deal with this correspondence in English by an own English savvy work- force. To solve this issue, many companies mandate English as a corporate language.

The principal aim of this assignment is to work out an overview of the application of English in non-English firms.

For this purpose, the motives of those parties who are involved in the process and the companies´ main objectives, challenges and benefits of using English as a corporate language, are taken into account.

The intentions for using English as a corporate language are manifold. How- ever, the three following purposes are the most obvious ones. Thus they are to be examined closely: firstly, the prospect of better business conducts, sec- ondly, the need of enhancing collaboration performance and thirdly, the re- quirement of staying competitive in an increasingly global market.

The assessment of whether these objectives can be generally achieved by conducting English as a corporate language will be given in the concluding section.

1 Definition of the term “corporate language”

Firstly, “corporate language”, (CL) (1 ) is one aspect of the strategic concept of corporate identity. “Corporate Identity is an internally and externally coherently presented self-conception of a company, which is expressed:

- By its visual appearance (corporate design)
- By its manner (corporate behaviour)
- By its way of communication (corporate communication).” (2 )

Corporate design, (CD) is expressed in a distinct visual logo, fonts and col- ours to identify a certain company. Corporate behaviour conveys the values of a company by the interaction between the employees. Corporate commu- nication, (CC) stipulates the level of language in internal and external com- munication in oral and written form, especially in business letters, advertising matters or the companies’ websites. It also sets policies regarding the phras- ing and words that are to be used and to be avoided within the companies´ context. Thus, the corporate language is strongly linked to companies’ busi- ness conducts and their reputation.

2 Findings on the usage of CL in non-English companies

2.1 Kinds of non-English companies that use English as CL

English is the most prevalent language in the entertainment industry with music and movies. Traditionally, the travel and catering industry, as well as multi-national firms, use to use English as CL. Nowadays, non-English ex- port-orientated manufacturers and companies with subsidiaries aboard, con- sider English as CL as a necessity. Increasingly, other business sectors in Germany, such as the banking industry (Deutsche Bank), IT-companies (SAP), Pharmacy (Bayer) and automobile manufacturing (Porsche) adopt English as their second or single company language. This tendency can be found not only in Germany but in any other industrial country in the world.

2.2 Extents of using English as CL

The extent, in with English is mandated in as a company language is varying. This strategic decision is subject to the kind of firm, its international exposure, and its targeted aims. In addition, the companies´ financial standing, i.e. the amount of money available, determines the scope of implementing funda- mentally.

The most common form of using English in non-English companies is to em- ploy it only for external communication purposes with English speaking par- ties. The companies´ conversation like holding business meetings with busi- ness partners, writing letters and email to international business associates and suppliers, advertising foreign customs or communicating with colleagues in subsidiaries abroad is conducted in English. Here, not the whole workforce but only those members of staff are compelled to use English who are actu- ally in contact with English speaking parties. As the origin language of the enterprise remains in force, for example German in a German company, English can be defined as a second CL.

In a few non-English companies, English is used as the single company lan- guage. In these cases, each employee is compelled to use English in every conversation, even in conversations with colleagues of the same language origin. This is often the case in heavily export orientated manufactories and subsidiaries derived from foreign companies. In cases of mergers and acqui- sitions, where two companies with different origin languages form a new business entity, English is mandated as CL. This serves to balance the language differences among the staff members in order to prevent any prevailing of one workforce over the other.

2.3 Intentions of using English as CL

2.3.1 Staying competitive in the international market

If a company enters the international market and seeks to stay competitive, it must be informed on the current business affairs and opportunities. Gathering information via the internet is therefore the fastest way. Web-based sources of information that are displayed on company´ website and advertisements ought to be internationally understandable.

Additionally, customers and business associates constantly need information from a company, e.g. from customer services, manufacturing executives or project managers. In order to enable a cross-over communication between each department and its stakeholders, English is chosen as a CL. In this respect, Tsedal Neeley, an associate professor in the Organizational Behaviour unit at the Harvard Business School states that ”a global language change takes perseverance and time, but if you want to surpass your rivals, it´s no longer a matter of choice.” (3 ) In a market of buyers, where companies provide rather equal products or services, the customers decide with whom to close a deal with. The principles often decide for companies which are ap- proachable at the same language basis or easy to deal with in English.

2.3.2 Establishing better business conducts

It is wildly assumed that a company that seeks to enter the international mar- ket can most effectively contact potential customers and suppliers in English. The more language savvy its workforce is, the better might its reputation might be in terms of its professional capability. A fluently English speaking executive certainly prevail more favourable business terms or and conditions than via an interpreter because he can negotiate directly with business asso- ciates.


1 The abbreviation CL will be used throughout the text in order to shorten the term “corporate language“.

2 Olfert, Klaus / Rahn, Hans-Joachim (Hrsg.). Lexikon der Betriebswirtschaftslehre, 7., ver- besserte und aktualisierte Auflage. Herne, 2011. Sec.: 211 (translation by the author of this assignment).

3 Neeley, Tselda. Global Business Speaks English. Why You Need a Language Strategy Now. Harvard Business Review. 05/2012. Sec.: Adopting a universal English policy.

Excerpt out of 12 pages


English used as a corporate language in non-English companies
AKAD University of Applied Sciences Stuttgart
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
401 KB
Corporate language, non-English companies, CL, collaboration, competition, performance, English
Quote paper
Sabine Lavid (Author), 2014, English used as a corporate language in non-English companies, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/322823


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: English used as a corporate language in non-English companies

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free