Interlingual translation and the transfer of value-infused practices: an in-depth qualitative exploration
- Publisher: SAGE
Against the background of a marked lack of studies exploring the role of language and more particularly interlingual translation in the travel of ideas and practices across organisational contexts, this article provides an analysis of an attempt by a group of managers to translate a set of corporate values into Polish from English. The findings reported serve to demonstrate the relevance of such translation processes to the transfer of knowledge and practices within multinationals. By prompting sensemaking around a value-laden text, the studied translation exercise is shown to have encouraged discussions around understandings of local needs and preferred meanings which served to trigger debates and reflections around local identity and affinities with the parent company. In doing so, it provided a ‘situated platform’ through which participants exercised a collective agency aimed at establishing what were perceived to constitute appropriate and productive accommodations between local and extra-local pressures. At the same time, the translation is shown to have been very much shaped by material interests and priorities, notably the performance expectations embedded in the subsidiary’s relationship with its parent. As a result, care needs to be taken not to overstate the role of such translations in facilitating locally driven cultural adaptations.