This year's conference of the Groupe d'Étude Management et Language (GEM&L) took place from May 19 to 21, 2022 at the Redoute and the University of Passau. Under the title "The multiple facets of language in international organizations: New directions for research", current research, practical issues and projects on language in organizations and multinational companies were presented and discussed by an international community and audience.
The conference, organized by GEM&L under the presidency of Dr. Philippe Lecomte in cooperation with the Chair of Intercultural Communication, headed by Professor Christoph Barmeyer, was attended by internationally renowned researchers as well as PhD students from 15 different countries, presenting and discussing the state of research with questions on the role of language, multilingualism, translation, culture and communication in international companies and organizations.
Organizations today are increasingly multicultural and therefore multilingual, and both management and employees are often affected by communication, translation and comprehension problems. Therefore, it is necessary to consider the important role of language in organizations as it contributes to a more inclusive and participatory culture and ultimately affects organizational performance. It is explored how language can be enriching and complementary, adding value to individuals, organizations and societies in this context.
The opening speech of the conference was given by the President of GEM&L, Dr. Philippe Lecomte. Prof. Dr. Ulrich Bartosch, President of the University of Passau, addressed all participants and Prof. Dr. Maximilian Sailer, Dean of the Institute for International Relations and Research at the University of Passau, gave a welcome speech. Prof. Dr. Christoph Barmeyer gave a talk together with Dr. Madeleine Bausch, portraying the city of Passau as a wonderful backdrop for the conference. The keynote lecture on the first day of the conference came from Professor Jean-Claude Usunier (HEC Lausanne, Switzerland) on "Confession of a (frustrated) Whorfian. Consequences for Management and Language." At the end of the first day of the conference, a welcome reception was held at Café Stephan's Cathedral.
The second day of the conference began with a presentation by the Language Center of the University of Passau led by Dr. Michael De Hong, Valerie Galpin, and Dr. Paul Davies, who presented the Language Center's various projects aimed at language teaching for students. Several experiential videos were shown in which students talked about the importance of the language and how it was important for their involvement in another culture and for their future professional development.
The second keynote lecture was given by Prof. Sylvie Chevrier (Université Gustave Eiffel) on "A language-culture comparison to enrich our understanding of cultures". This was followed by a round table discussion on cultural and linguistic challenges in international companies with Dr. Fritz Audebert (CEO of ICUnet AG), Dr. Carina Behrends (Diversity and Inclusion Officer at AUDI) and Birgit Gabriel (CSR Manager at the Franco-German cultural broadcaster ARTE). It was moderated by Dr. Madeleine Bausch and Constanze Ruesga Rath. Here it became clear that language is omnipresent and an important tool for the management of international companies. All three discussants agree that language in its many forms - whether national language, domain language or dialects - influences teamwork, communication success and thus corporate success. In a special session on "The Language General Competence Project", participating researchers from around the world presented project status and outlook to the audience in various subgroups. The project aims to establish language as an essential research and teaching subject at business schools and to strengthen the importance of language and communication in curricula and in practice.
The third and last keynote lecture was given by Professor Jean-François Chanlat (Université Paris-Dauphine P.S.L) on "Current and future publications in language-sensitive International Business Research". The day ended with an evening gala dinner on the Veste Oberhaus - with a magnificent view of the city of Passau - where the Nigel Holden Prize and GEM&L Awards were presented to Professor Volker Stein and Veronika Lovrits (Best Doctoral Paper). A regional cultural and multilingual program took place by the folk-dance group of the Heimat- und Volkstrachtenverein Salzweg as well as the musical performance of Phiya Helena with her songs in Portuguese, French and English.
The last day of the conference took place in the premises of the ITZ of the University of Passau and started with a "Professional Paper Development Workshop" on books and book writing with Professor Rebecca Piekkari, Professor Christoph Barmeyer and Dr. Natalie Wilmot, moderated by Professor Susanne Tietze and Dr. Philippe Lecomte.
The nearly three-day conference highlighted the important role of language, but also the lack of academic studies on international business and management, in which the importance of (foreign) language is still underrepresented. Companies face the challenge of multilingualism in an increasingly multicultural workforce as well as human-machine communication, and English can hardly be used as a "lingua franca" in many countries in Latin America or Asia.
The conference, which fortunately took place in a summery Passau, was sponsored and supported by the Neuburger Gesprächskreis and the University of Passau. In organizing the conference, Professor Barmeyer and Dr. Philippe Lecomte were assisted by Constanze Ruesga Rath and Tuzienka Chenet Ugarte, research assistants and doctoral students in the Department of Intercultural Communication at the University of Passau.