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Business English in International Organisations (BEIO)

Business English in International Organisations (BEIO) is a joint research project by Terry Haggerty of SAP and Bonn Applied English Linguistics. The partnership began in early 2012 with the aim of finding out about the difficulties related to using English as a lingua franca in multi-national organisations. Specifically, the project's research aims are to discover the difficulties that non-native English speakers experience when working in English. Further, we want to discover the effects of non-understanding and what native English speakers do to help understanding.

As a first step, we have compiled a corpus consisting of naturally-occurring business e-mails written by both native and non-native speakers of English. The e-mails have been analysed according to their pragmatic features as well as figurative language such as idioms, which may not be understood by all non-native speakers. An initial project report can be found on the BEIO website.

To find out about employees' experiences of using English in international organisations, we conducted a large-scale survey in 2014, providing detailed information on communicative interaction between native and non-native speakers in international corporations.

Currently, we are running a study specifically looking at the role of English idioms in this context. The link to this study can be found on our website. We are also conducting interviews with employees of international corporations, adding qualitatively "thick" data to the results of our 2014 survey. Our main areas of interest are communication in meetings and conference calls, and the creation and use of internal documentation such as procedures and internal website pages. We expect that the findings from our research will have important implications for various aspects of organisational life such as diversity, performance management and knowledge management.

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