The ‘cultural turn’ in business and management discourse: Political and ethical considerations

Zotzmann, Karin (2010) The ‘cultural turn’ in business and management discourse: Political and ethical considerations In, Gueldry, Michel (eds.) How Globalizing Professions Deal with National Languages: Studies in Cultural Studies and Cooperation. Ceredigion, County of, GB, Edwin Mellen


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The focus of this chapter is on the academic field of Intercultural or Cross Cultural Business Communication, an area that has, from the 1980s onwards, witnessed an explosive rate of publications and widespread public, professional and academic attention. The academic endeavor is coupled with consultancy practices and intercultural training for managers, a trend that is unsurprisingly related to the internationalization of business activities.
The field of Intercultural and Cross-Cultural Business Communication has developed partly as a reaction to the shortcomings of mainstream neoclassical economics which holds that through the spread of global competition all cultures and organizations will converge to a point of homogeneity. Interculturalists, in contrast, claim that human beings are profoundly shaped by their respective cultural communities and that these differences will persist despite the forces of globalization.

I argue in this chapter that the emphasis on culture, values and identity responds appropriately to the deficiencies of the predominant neo-classical approach. Intercultural approaches can thereby, at least superficially and intuitively, explain a wider range of phenomena related to processes of ‘globalization’. However, by turning culture into an all-encompassing notion with strong causal power and by ignoring the complexities of economic internationalization, inter- and cross-culturalists ‘flip’ from economic to cultural reductionism. This means that they cannot account satisfactorily for communication in international business contexts and might even perpetuate pre-existing stereotypes and prejudices on the part of students or clients. In order to capture these shortcomings, I analyze the two neoclassical metaphors (human beings behave like homo oeconomici, markets are regulated by the invisible hand of the market) and the responses developed by the field of Cross- or Intercultural Business Communication.

Item Type: Book Section
ISBNs: 0773446508 (print)
9780773446502 (print)
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Keywords: intercultural business communication, cultural turn, business discourse, neoclassical economics

ePrint ID: 177957
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Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2011 11:19
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 02:39
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