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The Concept, Treatment, and Future of Language in Contemporary Business and Management  

Terry Mughan

In the literature of business and management, language, unlike the contiguous concepts of culture and communication, did not have a recognized place until the early part of the 21st century. Isolated publications about language might have appeared occasionally in journals in subdisciplines such as marketing, communication, and international business (IB), but there was no real visible research community or concentration of output in the field. Special issues appearing in International Studies of Management and Organization, 2005 and the Journal of World Business, 2011 were significant steps in demonstrating the emergence of active researchers at this time. In 2014, the Journal of International Business Studies (JIBS), the top-ranked IB journal and the only such journal used by the Financial Times for its global journal rankings, published its first special issue on the subject. This landmark issue attracted 78 submissions, of which 14 were published in JIBS over two issues, and this represented a breakthrough in terms of both quality and quantity that captured the attention of all in the IB field. Many explanations have been proffered for the delay in breaching this barrier, from tacit resistance on the part of monolingual executives and institutions to methodological bias in favor of numerical data to the daunting definitional complexity of the term “language” itself and its relation to nation-level phenomena.