Cultural Knowledge as A Resource in BELF Interactions: A Longitudinal Ethnographic Study of Two Managers in Global Business

Tiina Räisänen


This paper contributes to the growing field of research on English as a business lingua franca (BELF) and extends discussion on the role of culture and cultural knowledge in business interactions. It aims to provide insights into the relationship between cultural knowledge and professionals’ management of BELF interactions. The paper is based on a longitudinal ethnographic study of two Finnish professionals’ trajectories of socialization into global working life and their work as managers. It draws on interview data in which the research participants orient to Finnish and Chinese professional and everyday practices and differences between them and thereby display their cultural knowledge. The main aim of the paper is to investigate, using discourse analysis, how this cultural knowledge, as depicted in interviews, manifests in BELF interactions and functions as a resource for transactional and relational purposes. The findings show that cultural knowledge emerges in explicit and implicit commentary about professional and everyday practices that relate to language proficiency, understanding, interpreting, work culture, safety issues, food and business matters. The findings also show that repetition, paraphrasing, summarizing, metalanguage, local languages, directives and humour are effective resources used by the two managers at work.


Linguistics; BELF

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