How employees cope with the requirement to work in a foreign language has received little scholarly attention. To narrow this gap, we conducted an ethnographic study at KONE and NOKIA, companies using English as a lingua franca. Results indicate that employees who are non-native lingua franca speakers may cope collectively with the language demands by building a psychologically safe language climate. Although benefitting them emotionally, psychologically safe language climate may simplify the lingua franca and, in turn, decrease innovative performance. Our findings contribute to research on language-coping mechanisms and psychological safety in adding language as a potential barrier to innovativeness.
- Lingua-franca mandate
- Psychological safety
- Communication climate
- Psychologically safe language climate
- Global teams