The Impact of Language on International Business Negotiation
As major corporations and small businesses alike establish operations in international markets, it has become common for companies to adopt English as a shared corporate language to facilitate communication. Here, we examined how negotiating either through a shared language (lingua franca) or in your native language through translation influences both the perception of the negotiation process and its outcomes. In a study conducted in collaboration with the Center in Beijing, we recruited 280 native Chinese speakers who were proficient in English to participate in a negotiation simulation. In this simulation, participants were asked to write an email detailing an initial asking price for a product to a Korean counterpart in either English (lingua franca) or in their native Chinese to be translated to Korean. We consistently found that participants felt their initial asking price and its corresponding message was more persuasive, clearer, and more likely to be accepted when given the opportunity to write their message in Chinese than English. We also found that individuals less confident in using their foreign language asked for significantly less money when asked to write their message in English. The findings provide an important insight into the influential role language plays in shaping negotiation outcomes and has important implications for international business and policy.
Leigh H. Grant
Leigh received her BA in Psychology and Philosophy from Boston University and her MSc in Research Methods in Psychology from University College London. Prior to joining the Multilingualism and Decision-Making Lab, Leigh worked as a research assistant for the Polysyllabic Word Reading Project, which examined reading disability and how late elementary school students read polysyllabic words. Later on, Leigh completed her master’s thesis with the Language and Cognition Lab under Gabriella Vigliocco, focusing on how emotionally valenced words are preconsciously processed. Leigh joined the Multilingualism and Decision Making Lab in 2015 as a Research Coordinator and began her doctoral studies at the University of Chicago in 2017.
Currently, Leigh is broadly interested in examining the impact of language on how individuals reason and make decisions.