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date: 28 June 2017

Intercultural Workplace Communication

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication. Please check back later for the full article.

The workplace is a highly meaningful context for intercultural communication. It is a social space that enables persons who have grown up in different countries, identify with different ethnic groups, or speak different languages to collaborate and develop relationships with one another, infusing their interactions with issues of professional and organizational roles and identification, as well as with material, social, and even political considerations.

Interpersonal communication in the workplace has always been a primary area of interest for intercultural communication research. While early explorations were preoccupied with the preparation of U.S. military personnel, diplomats, businessmen, and missionaries for overseas assignments, the increasing pluralization of the social landscape, intensified by the forces of globalization, has bolstered research endeavours. These days, the scope of intercultural workplace communication inquiry comprises everyday face-to-face and technology-mediated interactions that take place in encounters, relationships, groups, and teams in a variety of working arrangements and across a range of public and private sector organizations worldwide. Developments in research have also been informed by the organizational approaches of antidiscrimination and diversity management that emerged in the United States and that have been exported to and reinterpreted in workplaces around the world. Issues of intercultural communication are related to such workplace communication processes and phenomena as social categorization, stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination, conflict and its management, organizational satisfaction and identification, socialization, supportive communication, interpersonal relationship development and informal interaction, negotiation of shared workplace culture, knowledge sharing, decision making, learning and innovation, or leadership and management. In recent years, there has been a research thrust into linguistic practices in workplace interactions.