Challenges in international business communication: a study of language, culture and inter-cultural issues in Malaysian-Australian business discourse

Jumiati Ismail

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This study aims to explore communication deviances and strategies in the negotiation discourse of Malaysian-Australian business encounters, from both a linguistic and nonlinguistic perspective. Specifically, it sees miscommunications/deviances as factors that may hinder the business communication process and prevent the negotiators from achieving their objectives. The study also focuses on strategies, or those discourse skills which promote successful business negotiation. The research method is based on the analysis of discourse generated from initial 'perception' interviews, business meetings, and post-meeting 'follow-up' interviews. The research involved a cross-section of Malaysian and Australian business people from various industries; such as tourism, information technology, hospitality and financial services. The initial 'perception' interviews were intended to gather data on the prior experiences of Malaysian and Australian businesspeople, both in terms of the reported difficulties and strengths in their business interactions and dealings in Western Australia. In the second stage of the analysis, the deviances which signalled miscommunication in the negotiation were identified in the recorded meeting data. Also identified were the strategies which were used by the negotiators to increase the likelihood that their goals will be achieved. The objective of the research was then to interpret why these strategies were being used, and their influence on the negotiation process. From the data a pattern emerged in the way that deviance occurred, and the way that strategies were being performed. This has made it possible to group deviance and strategies and present the findings thematically. Altogether, five themes identified, these were: Management of topics, Building rapport; Ethical business conduct; Building recognition; Styles in business practice. The study has shown that business communication discourse reflects the embedded culture of its speakers. Topic management was also found to play an important role in the business meetings as it enabled the participants to more effectively lead their discussion towards its intended goal. Both the deviance and strategies have been managed by the business negotiators in the way they select the appropriate topic categories in order to effectively maintain the discussion throughout the meeting.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2007

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