Business Code-Switching: Sociocultural Knowledge for Career Advancement in Cosmopolitan Singapore
Wallace, Vijoleta Ilic
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The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Inc. Dissertation Fieldwork Grant Application was prepared by students to fulfill the requirements of their Anthropology Senior Capstone.My ethnographic research project will address professional advancement through multilingual business communication in a Germany based multinational corporation, SIEMENS, located in Singapore. They are a global leader that provides sustainable green technology that employs a multilingual, multinational workforce throughout the world. This company has a worldwide presence and is an ideal place to conduct this study. From 1960s to 1970s the use of the English language in Singapore has risen from 50% to 90% (Devel 2018) magnifying the present-day significance of bilingualism. Multilingual employees in a company such as SIEMENS are the link to bridge the complex intersection that worldwide clients bring during business collaborations. By examining the linguistic transaction between the employees, I will witness how and when they use language to position themselves to be part of a distinct social group, which allows them to ultimately benefit their advancement within the company structure. My project is the first anthropological study to analyze Singaporean employees in a German company who code-switch in their daily interactions with clients, coworkers, and authority figures, establishing a framework of excellence for people to follow. I will use archival documents for historical information, participant observation, focus groups, and interviews to gain quantitative and qualitative data. This yearlong study will add to anthropological knowledge concerning the complex negotiations that take place by multilinguals to negotiate their way up in the corporate global setting by solely using language as a catalyst for advancement.