Perceptions, effectiveness and language strategies Can interlocutors’ perceptions predict the actual effectiveness of a conversation in ELF and RM? And what are the consequences for international companies’ language strategies?

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Most companies base their company’s language strategy on the anticipated effectiveness of that strategy. However, international companies also often turn to English as a corporate language (Marchan, Welch & Welch, 1997). In addition to the question whether English is the best language international companies can implement to improve communicational effectiveness, some researchers have argued that perceptions may also have a significant influence on the effectiveness of cross-cultural communication (e.g. Henderson & Louhiala-Salminen, 2011). Thus, the current study not only researched the effectiveness of two different communication modes – ELF and RM – but also investigated whether a relation existed between the actual effectiveness of a conversation and the perceptions interlocutors may have about the communication and the conversation partner. Finally, the consequences of such a relationship for international companies’ language strategies were discussed. A within-subject experiment was carried oud among 48 participants. They performed two spot-the-difference tasks, one in ELF and one in RM. Strikingly, even though several studies indicated that RM would be more effective than ELF, RM was not found to be more or less effective than ELF in the current study. Additionally, no relation between actual effectiveness and perceptions of the communication nor the conversation partner were found. Finally, even though no consequences for international companies’ language strategies were found based on the findings of the current study, it is stressed that managers in such companies do pay attention to these strategies since they could benefit not only employee’s individual but also the companies’ effectiveness.
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