Accepted paper:

Language and power in a multinational corporation: a case study of a Korean company in Indonesia

Authors:

Yoonhee Kang (Seoul National University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the issues of language and power in a multinational corporation, by analyzing a case of a Korean company in Indonesia. It discusses how Korean managers' use of the local language reveals their conflicting ideologies of efficiency and cultural diversity in this manufacturing plant.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I explore the issues of language and power in a multinational corporation, by analyzing a case of a Korean company in Indonesia. Based on my ethnographic field research in a Korean manufacturing plant in Indonesia, this paper addresses the following three questions. First, how do Korean managers communicate with Indonesian workers in the company? Second, what ideologies mediate in this specific type of language use and communication? Third, how are these ideologies related to power relations between Koreans and Indonesians? By answering these three questions, this paper identifies the characteristics of Korean managers' usage of the Indonesian language called "factory talk" ( Gongjang-Mal), and discuss how "factory talk" contributes to reproduce and reinforce their power relations in this manufacturing plant. More specifically, I discuss how Koreans' "factory talk" would both reflect and shape the Koreans' conflicting and ambivalent ideologies of efficiency and cultural diversity that once acknowledge the local workers' cultural diversity, yet still devalue their cultural traits as being less efficient for high productivity. Therefore, this study reveals that such 'factory talk' may appear to index the company's successful 'localization,' while its underlying ideologies still feed and reconstitute the ideas of discrimination and unequal relations between Koreans and Indonesians in this company.

panel P075
Cultural diversity and multiculturalism in enterprise (Commission on Enterprise Anthropology)