restricted access 1 - Intercultural Professional Communication: Approaches and Issues
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1 Intercultural Professional Communication: Approaches and Issues Kenneth C. C. Kong and Winnie Cheng As a result of globalization and the internalization of trade and information, intercultural communication has become an increasingly significant topic. This is especially the case in professional communication, because participants in professional communication have to draw on more sophisticated and transdisciplinary frameworks in order to get their jobs done. Even the communication among professional peers themselves is far from smooth and straightforward, and is mediated by participants from different cultural backgrounds with different assumptions. As Gottis (2004, 10) notes in an introduction to a monograph on intercultural professional communication, ‘domain-specific languages are prone to the pressures of intercultural variation, as it is not only the sociocultural factors inherent in a text but also the interpretive schemata which deeply affect its realization and interpretation within the host community . . . intercultural communication is often made more complex by the locutors’ need to make their texts as adaptable as possible to contextual features and pragmatic purpose’. The use of a ‘lingua franca’, i.e. English, does not make the issue less complicated; instead, it can even be argued that the use of a language that is not the native language of both the speaker and the hearer can create more problems in the construction, use and interpretation of texts. Research studies in professional communication A quick review of professional communication research in the twenty-first century has shown not only the growing importance and value of these studies but also the wide-ranging professions that have been investigated. Examples of professions are business and financial services, construction and engineering, health care, 4 Kenneth C. C. Kong and Winnie Cheng law, tourism, and trading. In financial accounting, Rutherford (2003) examines the social negotiation of meaning, focusing on the construction of financial statement elements from the schemes developed under the UK government Private Finance Initiative. Heldenberg and Scoubeau (2005) survey the views of company managers in a Belgian financial market regarding the importance of financial communication. Cheng, Li, Love and Irani’s (2001) study investigates the communication between different parties in a construction project and proposes a communication mechanism for successful construction alliance. Andersen and Rasmussen (2004) compare how manufacturers from Danish companies and their subsidiaries in France solve language and communication problems. The purpose of Yamaguchi’s (2005) study was to discover the interrelationship between effective communications and different work-related variables in Japanese companies, including information-seeking behaviour, perceived procedural justice, and the reduction of job-related uncertainty. Rogerson-Revell (2007) discusses some of the communication difficulties encountered by participants in business meetings in a European professional organization in an English for International Business (EIB) context, and how the participants perceive the use of EIB in international professional communication. In health care, Peräkylä and Vehviläinen (2003) study different relationships between the research results generated from conversation analysis and other theories and models that describe professional-client interaction in institutional settings: medical care, therapy, counselling and education. Colón-Emeric et al. (2006) compare the medical and nursing staff working in two nursing homes according to the communication patterns and organizational consequences relating to four dimensions: the quality of information flow, cognitive diversity, self-organization, and innovation. Leenerts and Teel (2006) conducted a pilot study which describes the communication skills used by an advanced practice nurse in creating partnerships with caregivers. In the legal discipline, Candlin et al. (2002) review fifty-six legal writing textbooks which are available on market to discuss how suitable they are for use in English for Academic Legal Purposes (EALP) contexts. By proposing three approaches for designing and developing suitable written EALP materials, Candlin et al. discuss some crucial issues related to EALP theory and practice. Compared to the legal profession, more research has been conducted in the tourism and hotel industry; for example, Gilbert and Terrata (2001), Peters (2005), Moskowitz and Krieger (2003), Russell and Leslie (2004), and Dolnicar (2005). In Hong Kong, Vijay Bhatia (2004) is well known for his critical genre analysis multidimensional and multi-perspective framework, as well as the international research efforts in the legal genre (e.g. Bhatia 2006). Evans and Green (2003) report on survey results relating to the patterns of English use by Chinese professionals at different levels in five key occupational fields in the public and Intercultural Professional Communication 5 private sectors after 1997: business services, community/social services, construction/real estate, engineering and manufacturing. Specifically, their survey examines different text types and situations...


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