Weak in ability but still follow what the headquarters asks: a legitimacy-based view of MNC employees' adoption of English

Anna J.C. Hsu*, Kevin Au, Marta K. Dowejko

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper advances a legitimacy-based view on what factors determine multinational corporation (MNC) employees' adoption of English at work. We posit that legitimacy judgment represents an alternative mechanism, other than language ability, for explaining MNC employees' response to headquarters' corporate language policy. The hypotheses were confirmed in two studies with mixed-methods (experiments; semi-structured interviews), involving MNC employees in China. Our findings verified that corporate language policy increases positive legitimacy judgment, which in turn enhances employees' adoption of English at work. Further analysis showed that language ability moderates the mediating effect of legitimacy judgment, such that this effect is stronger for employees with lower language ability. Semi-structured interviews confirmed the experimental findings and brought more insight into why and how Chinese employees adopt English in daily work. This paper contributes to the research on corporate language policy, legitimacy judgment, and cross-border management in Asia Pacific.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12396
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Human Resources
Volume62
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Nov 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

User-Defined Keywords

  • corporate language policy
  • language ability
  • language-sensitive HRM
  • legitimacy judgment
  • mixed-methods approach

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