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Language and translation in international management research


  • Symposium announcement:
    Dr Huiping Xian, Lecturer in Human Resources Management and Organisational Behaviour at Sheffield University Management, is organising a symposium on language and translation at the European Academy of Management Conference 2018

Increasingly, research projects are located across the globe and therefore situated in countries, regions and institutions which are culturally, socially, politically and linguistically diverse.  Researchers collect empirical data that is frequently expressed in local languages. Yet at the crucial moment of dissemination of knowledge and in particular at the publication stage, English is often recognised as the only legitimate language, as if it captures the experience of all ‘others’.

The symposium is located in a field of inquiry, which concerns itself with the role of languages and translation in international business/management research. Currently, this research stream focuses on the existence of language diversity at international workplaces. The symposium takes the ideas emanating from this body of work forward by asking more specific questions about the role of translation as a concomitant aspect of language diversity. Questions which will be addressed pertain to designing, conducting, reporting and disseminating international research. These include aspects relating to philosophical-ontological questions, the empirical research process, and the role of English in the publication world.

Panelists with expertise in international research will share their experience and explore theoretical, methodological and practical issues in both quantitative and qualitative research. Three broad themes will be explored:

  • Publish or perish – in English: This contribution explores implicit, unacknowledged assumptions about the publication of research accounts written in English in order to achieve the status of legitimate, recognisable and valid knowledge. This assumption is supported by references to journal ranking lists, which provide an institutionally sanctioned tool to categorise the value of published knowledge. This theme focuses on the ‘consequences of knowledge’ and provides practical ideas about how to challenge this English language dominance without endangering its power as a bridging language to capture empirical and conceptual diversity through translation.
  • Translation in empirical projects: This theme explores crucial issues in the translation process, such as who translates, what and how, how to report this into written research accounts, what gets left out, or added on in the translation process, what gets created? In the symposium, we will discuss protocols how to report such data in written research account.
  • Translation of bodies of knowledge: This theme focuses on the dissemination of knowledge to a multilingual audience. Western bodies of knowledge serving as a guiding conceptual framework in ‘other’ contexts have been considered as standard practice in international research. We will explore different ways of developing indigenous research/knowledge. Issues of training next generation of international researchers will also be discussed.

This workshop will be of interest to researchers and doctoral candidates undertaking research in a language other than English, and to academics, who are native English speakers but working in multi-cultural and multi-lingual projects.


Symposium Title: Multilingual research, monolingual publication: Language & translation in international management research

Organiser: Dr Huiping Xian, University of Sheffield

Time: 21st June, 14:00-15:30

Venue: Arnagardar Building A201, University of Iceland

Chair: Professor Susanne Tietze, Sheffield Hallam University


  • Professor Bill Lee, University of Sheffield
  • Dr Huiping Xian, University of Sheffield
  • Dr Philippe Lecomte, Toulouse Business Schoool
  • Dr Nan Jiang, University of Westminster
  • Dr Outila Virpi, Aalto University
  • Dr Natalie Wilmot, Sheffield Hallam University


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