Language Use in Services


The Role of Language Use in Services, Special issue of Journal of Business Research, Edited by Jonas Holmqvist, Yves Van Vaerenbergh and Christian Gr?nroos; Deadline 31 Aug 2015

Journal of Business Research

Special Issue on the Role of Language Use in Services

Guest Editors: Jonas Holmqvist, Yves Van Vaerenbergh and Christian Grönroos

The decision to use, or not to use, the customer’s language can have a significant impact on how customers perceive the service provider, and even the whole service encounter (Van Vaerenbergh & Holmqvist, 2014). The service marketing and management literature acknowledges that services depend on interactions in which customers interact with firms (Grönroos, 1990; Surprenant & Solomon, 1987). This interaction between the customer and the service personnel strongly influences both the service outcome and the customer’s perceived service quality (Bitner, 1990; Grönroos, 2008). Despite this emphasis on the interaction, however, service research only recently begun to question how the interaction may change if the service personnel and the customer do not speak the same language (Holmqvist & Grönroos, 2012). This is surprising given that more than half the countries in the world are multilingual, and more than half the consumers in the world speak more than one language (Luna & Peracchio, 2001). The joint interaction with the customer is where the company co-creates value with its customers (Grönroos & Voima, 2013), so managing this interaction is of crucial importance for companies. However, the task of recruiting service personnel with required language competencies and running a multilingual workforce is an additional challenge for managers (Harzing & Pudelko, 2013; Piekkari et al., 2013)

Topics for the JBR special issue may focus on, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The role(s) of language use in customers’ value creation processes
  • Language use and emotions
  • Linking language use to perceptions of authenticity
  • Possible tensions: Could accommodating speakers of a minority language alienate speakers of the majority language?
  • Language use from the employer perspective
  • Do customers always prefer their own language – or might the customer want to change language in some service situations?
  • Language use in online services (e.g. multilingual websites)
  • Challenges in managing a multilingual service company
  • Language use as a driver for customer loyalty and for customer lifetime value
  • Calculating the benefits and the costs of a multilingual service strategy
  • Cross-cultural differences in terms of the reactions to language use in services.

Deadline for complete paper submissions is August 31, 2015

A more detailed and definitive version of this call for papers is available on the Elsevier Web site for the journal.