The power of babel: language diversity, clusters, and the implementation of on-the-job training programs




Kalra, Komal

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This dissertation examined the relationship between language diversity and the implementation of on-the-job training programs. Using India as the empirical context, I conducted a multi-case study research, which involved semi-structured interviews and direct observations in the headquarters of two Indian multinational enterprises. Drawing from social identity theory, I first examined the factors that influence the emergence and transformation of two types of language -based clusters, coping clusters and clusters of convenience. The two types of clusters display distinct mechanisms related to arousal, ingroup favoritism and outgroup bias, which questions one of the key assumptions of social identity theory related to the role of affect. Additionally, I found that language diversity can create cognitive discomfort for training recipients, and emotional anxiety for both training facilitators and recipients. However, training recipients, training facilitators, and the executive management, (i.e., the firm) can utilize certain language accommodation approaches that can reduce the emotional and cognitive discomfort experienced by employees. Using communication accommodation theory, I discuss that the influence of each language accommodation approach depends on its source and time of implementation. As well, language -based clusters can facilitate the exchange of interpersonal information during on-the-job training programs. The emergent findings also suggest that linguistic identity seldom operates in isolation. It often intersects with other dimensions of social identity, specifically, the status differentials attached to gender, education and regional dialects. The findings have implications for research on language diversity and language management in international business, social identity theory and communication accommodation theory.



Language Diversity, Social Identity Theory, Language, Communication Accommodation Theory, Gender, India, Language accommodation, Language clusters, Dialects