In this paper, we focus on the role of language in cross-border mergers and acquisitions and explore how organization members’ language skills, or fluency, in the adopted lingua franca may impact their reactions to a merger. Drawing on a qualitative study of the post-merger integration between a French and Dutch airline where English was adopted as a lingua franca, we illustrate how language fluency influences the ability of individuals to give meaning to their changed circumstances. Moreover, we elaborate on how language fluency indexes social groupings and identities, and may thus be a driver of perceptions of status inequality and identity politics between different groups of employees. With our study we draw attention to the multi-faceted role of English as a lingua franca. Our findings also contribute to research on sociocultural dynamics associated with post-merger integration and the role of language in mergers and acquisitions, as well as in multinational companies more generally.

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ERIM Top-Core Articles
M I R: Management International Review: journal of international business
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Kroon, D. P., Cornelissen, J., & Vaara, E. (2015). Explaining Employees’ Reactions towards a Cross-Border Merger: The Role of English Language Fluency. M I R: Management International Review: journal of international business, 55(6), 775–800. doi:10.1007/s11575-015-0259-2