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Title: Business English as a lingua franca in Saudi multinational corporations : a qualitative investigation of communicative strategies and orientations to use in international workplaces
Author: Alharbi, Nuha
ISNI:       0000 0004 5991 1992
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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It is beyond dispute now that English is the preferred language of international business and intercultural communication, and that having basic English skills is a requirement for any individual trying to engage in today’s globalized business world. This explains the emergence of a specific field of ELF (English as a lingua franca) research that investigates ELF in business settings, i.e. BELF, which refers to business English as a lingua franca. BELF research emphasizes mutual understanding as the parameter for successful communication, without having to mimic a native speaker (NS) model of English because in business contexts, business matters most, and language skills are considered secondary. Research into ELF and BELF has been carried out extensively in limited geographical locations: predominantly in Europe and East Asia. Therefore, investigating ELF in other parts of the world is essential if we want to provide a better understanding of how it operates. My principal research objective is to help fill this research gap by providing insights into a vibrant context of business communication in the Middle East – an area which has not been investigated so far. Its main purpose is to provide an in-depth investigation of BELF in Saudi multinational corporations (MNCs). The investigation focuses on BELF speakers’ shared communicative strategies, in addition to the participants’ orientations toward using BELF in their daily business life. In this research, I employ qualitative, ethnographically-oriented research techniques in order to provide an in-depth and detailed analysis of BELF use, including the perceptions of the people using it. Because I am investigating an arena of international communication, my participants come from different linguacultural backgrounds. As the participants are engaged in a social practice, this study draws on the community of practice model. Therefore, a qualitative, ethnographically-oriented approach is adopted, with data collected through observations, semistructured interviews, and recordings of naturally-occurring conversations. This thesis contributes to the understanding of the pragmatic aspects of BELF communication by examining how participants draw on their multilingual shared repertoire to co-construct meaning. The analysis of the recorded conversations provides strong evidence of the important roles of different communicative strategies for the negotiation of meaning. Code-switching, in particular, proved to be the most characteristic strategy in the MNC where this study takes place. Other communicative strategies such as paraphrasing, hedging, backchannels and utterance completions also play important roles in both co-constructing meaning and in smoothing conversations. The analysis of the interview data reveal the participants perception of the use of BELF in their workplace, the challenges they face when communicating in BELF, and their perceptions of their NS colleagues and managers. Findings from this thesis can be useful in advancing awareness of the BELF phenomenon in business communication in Saudi Arabia specifically and in the world generally, and in developing new training materials for business English courses and business intercultural communication training programmes based on the sociolinguistic realities of the business domain.
Supervisor: Dewey, Martin ; Wingate, Ursula Christine Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available