The effects of accounts and language on the persuasiveness of requests in corporate settings.

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Due to globalisation over the last years, there are more and more multicultural companies, as a result of which many companies have implemented English as their common corporate language, as it is in the Netherlands. This creates difficulties in terms of communication for non-native speakers. Language, however, is not the only thing that creates challenges in the workplace. On the work floor, a superior often makes a request to a subordinate, but it may also be done by someone with the same hierarchical position within a company. The requests are not always well received by the employee, since they impose something and therefore are face threatening. Especially when it concerns an illegitimate task request. What is very important in multicultural companies is that the communication on the work floor runs smoothly, and this gave rise to the following two research questions: 1. “What is the effect of accounts (present vs. absent) on the persuasiveness of a request?” and 2. “What is the effect of a language (foreign vs. native) in which the request is provided on the persuasiveness of the request?”. In order to answer these research questions and contribute to a better working environment where face threat at work is managed, an experiment was conducted with a between-subjects design. The results of this experiment showed that there was no significant effect of language and account on the persuasiveness of a request. This means that it does not affect the recipient's attitude towards the request nor the intention to imply when one receives a request in Dutch or English, with or without an account to it. What may give different results in follow-up studies is the use of other languages, additional information on the distance and the weight of the imposition, and the use of a different or multiple accounts.
Faculteit der Letteren