Translation in cross-language international business research: beyond equivalence

Agnieszka Chidlow, Emmanuella Plakoyiannaki, Catherine Welch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we problematise the way translation has been treated in international business (IB) research. We start by conducting an interpretive content analysis of both qualitative and quantitative cross-language studies published in four core IB journals over the course of a decade. Our analysis shows the dominance of a technicist view of translation associated with the equivalence paradigm. In contrast, we advocate a shift to a more contextualised approach informed by theoretical developments in translation studies. More specifically, we focus on two theoretical perspectives – skopos theory and cultural politics – which offer related but distinct approaches to rethinking equivalence. We conclude by advocating that the translation process be reframed as a process of intercultural interaction, rather than a lexical transfer of meaning. This reconceptualisation would, we argue, open up what is currently a “black box” in most IB studies. The contextualised approach that we offer has the potential not just to enrich the findings of studies, but also provide insights that are of multidisciplinary relevance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-582
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Issue number5
Early online date2 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2014


  • language (language design, silent language, translation)
  • content analysis
  • qualitative/quantitative comparisons


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