Journal of Intercultural Communication, issue 7, September 2004

Christopher M. Schmidt

The relevance of culture-specific conceptualisation for organisational management: a cross-cultural study on the difference between German and Swedish organisational concepts pdf-file


The article deals with the question how culture-specific ways of conceptualising (thinking) play a role in organisational and management theory from the perspective of cognitive linguistics. Not only does this paper question the widespread idea that the language of science and economics is universally the same and that communication across cultural borders can be managed just by means of a lingua franca. This paper also shows by comparison of central verbal and non-verbal image-schemata in Swedish and German organisational theory how non-propositional image schemata are used in the above mentioned cultures. It is shown how cognitive linguistics (namely metaphorological analysis) can give insights into culture-specific knowledge. This is examplified through the kind of fundamental differences in the ways in which German and Swedish management deals with questions concerning hierarchies, leadership behavior, the ways of organising work processes, and the role of the individual in the organisational whole. It is argued that through culture-specific, non-propositional basic image schemata, interculturally relevant knowledge can be obtained for multicultural management.

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