Das TC Gebäude von außen.

Plenary Speakers

Paola Catenaccio (University of Milan)

Bio: Paola Catenaccio received her first degree and her PhD (in English literature) from the Catholic University, Milan. After a number of years as a postgraduate (guest) student in London (King’s College; Birkbeck college), she returned to Italy, where ...

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... she was offered a position as Lecturer in English Linguistics at the University of Milan (Università degli Studi di Milano). She has been working at UNIMI since 2004, teaching English Linguistics with a focus on Business English. Full professor since 2016, she is currently Director of Studies for the BA in Language Mediation and Intercultural Communication and for the MA in Languages and Cultures for International Communication and Cooperation, a position she has held since 2014, having previously served as Deputy Dean for international relations in the Faculty of Social and Political Science. She has served as evaluator the two latest editions of the Italian Research Assessment Exercise and in national and international grant assignment procedures. She is Editor-in-Chief of the international journal LCM – Languages Cultures Mediation, and sub-editor of the International Journal of Business Communication.

Gerlinde Mautner (Vienna University of Economics and Business)


Bio: Gerlinde Mautner received her first degree and doctorate in English from the University of Vienna, completed her Habilitation in 1997 and was appointed to a chair at WU in 2000.

Between 1998 and 2002 she ...

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... was the WU's Vice-Rector for International Relations. Gerlinde has spent several extended research periods at the linguistics departments of British universities, including Birmingham, Lancaster, Cardiff and King’s College London. From September 2012 until March 2013 she was a visiting fellow at the School of Business and Management of Queen Mary, University of London. In September 2014 she was appointed Honorary Visiting Professor at Cass Business School.

Between 2008 and 2016 she was a member of the Board of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). Since September 2016 she has been the FWF’s Vice-President for Humanities and Social Sciences.


Messy, patchy, fuzzy? Key challenges in analysing business discourse data

There is no doubt that research into business communication has been making great strides, deepening our understanding, not just of how text and talk are shaped by organizational structures and processes, but of how they shape these. It has thus been …

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… amply demonstrated that focusing on communication – and, specifically, language – is relevant for both management studies (Mautner 2016) and business practice (Daric & Clifton 2018). Equally, we have found that studying business discourse can yield insights into how interaction works more generally (Handford 2010; Koester 2010).

Yet a number of key challenges remain. Access to data is typically restricted, and our insights therefore remain patchy. Even when research protocols are followed, results can be disappointingly messy. And, as a discipline, business communication research has notoriously fuzzy edges, which can hinder research design as much as helping it.

Specifically, the challenges involved relate to the following areas: Corpus building, confidentiality and stakeholder involvement; development of theory and methods; the relationship between quantitative and qualitative evidence; the societal and managerial impact of research; the tension between critical distance and identification with corporate interests; the institutional embedding and status of business communication in academia; and interdisciplinary dialogue and silence. These issues influence not only how we develop our research designs, but also how we position ourselves as researchers, juggle different identities, and balance rigour and relevance. Discussing each of them against the backdrop of recent conceptual and empirical work, I will therefore argue that they have both operational and epistemological implications. Finally, taking this argument further, it would appear useful to reappraise, redirect and hopefully reinvigorate the much-vaunted 'linguistic turn' (Alvesson & Kärreman 2000, Deetz 2003).


Alvesson, M. and Kärreman, D. (2000) ‘Taking the linguistic turn in organizational research’, The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 36(2): 136‒158.

Darics, E. & Clifton, J. (2018). "Making applied linguistics applicable to business practice. Discourse analysis as a management tool." Applied Linguistics 40, 917–936, https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amy040.

Deetz, S. (2003) ‘Reclaiming the legacy of the linguistic turn’, Organization 10(3), 412‒429.

Handford, M. (2010). The Language of Business Meetings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Koester, A. (2010). Workplace Discourse. London and New York: continuum.

Mautner, G. (2016). Discourse and Management. Critical Perspectives Through the Language Lens. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Eero Vaara (Aalto University)

Bio: Eero Vaara (Ph.D. Econ) is a Professor of Organization and Management at Aalto University School of Business, Helsinki, Finland. He is a permanent Visiting Professor at EMLYON Business School, France, and a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Lancaster University, UK. He has previously ...

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... served as the Chair of European Group of Organizational Studies (EGOS) and as representative-at-large of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Management. He is now a board member of the European Institute for Advanced Studies of Management (EIASM) and Scandinavian Consortium of Organizational Research (SCANCOR, Stanford and Harvard).


Multinational corporations as the nexus of globalization and nationalism: A critical discursive perspective on identity politics

Organization research has traditionally not engaged with in-depth analysis of national identity and nationalism. This is especially the case with the construction and manipulation of difference in and around MNCs. Drawing on critical discourse analysis, the purpose of this paper is …

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… to offer four perspectives that can help to advance this area of research. First, MNCs can be viewed as sites of identity politics, within which one can study ‘us vs. them’ constructions and the reproduction of inequalities. Second, MNCs can be seen as actors engaged in identity building and legitimation vis-à-vis external stakeholders, and the analysis of the discursive dynamics involved illuminates important aspects of identity politics between the organization and its environment. Third, MNCs can be viewed as part of international relations between nations and nationalities, and analysis of discursive dynamics in the media can elucidate key aspects of the international struggles encountered. Fourth, MNCs can be seen as agents of broader issues and changes, which enables us to comprehend how MNCs advance neocolonialism or promote positive change in society.