Language-based communication zones in international business communication

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)22_Publication in policy or professional journal

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-412
Journal / PublicationJournal of Business Communication
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001


This paper presents a model of language-based communication zones in international business communication. The model builds on Du-Babcock and Babcock's (1996) descriptions of expatriate-local personnel communication patterns by reconfiguring and adding new zones, which vary according to the language proficiency matches of the interactants. The eight new communication zones represented here can contribute to a more comprehensive framework that represents the dynamic, bi-directional, multiply influenced, and transformational translation process integral to international business communication. Previous research has operated on the assumption that all participants within an international business communication setting function as fully proficient users of all languages being spoken, with no accounting for communication difficulties based on varying levels of language proficiency. This study asserts that there is, in fact, a language-competency variable that greatly impacts communication and communication dynamics within the eight identified language-based communication zones. Research-based incidents from four countries illustrate likely communication patterns in the language-based communication zones. © 2001 by the Association for Business Communication.

Research Area(s)

  • Communication zones, Global communication, International business communication, Language proficiency