The language of business interviewing
: a study in cross-cultural communication

  • Paul S. Taylor

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The study examines the concept of cultural determinism in relation to the business interview, analysing differences in language use between English, French and West German native speakers. The approach is multi- and inter-disciplinary combining linguistic and business research methodologies. An analytical model based on pragmatic and speech act theory is developed to analyse language use in telephone market research interviews. The model aims to evaluate behavioural differences between English, French and West German respondents in the interview situation. The empirical research is based on a telephone survey of industrial managers, conducted in the three countries in the national language of each country. The telephone interviews are transcribed and compared across languages to discover how managers from each country use different language functions to reply to questions and requests. These differences are assessed in terms of specific cultural parameters: politeness, self-assuredness and fullness of response. Empirical and descriptive studies of national character are compared with the survey results, providing the basis for an evaluation of the relationship between management culture and national culture on a contrastive and comparative cross-cultural basis. The project conclusions focus on the implications of the findings both for business interviewing and for language teaching.
Date of Award1988
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorM.R. Townson (Supervisor)


  • business interviewing
  • cross-cultural communication

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