Alexandria Digital Research Library

Power and Politeness in Intercultural Workplace Communication: Some Implications for Teaching English as a Second Language in Thailand

Yaoharee, Ornkanya
Degree Supervisor:
Jenny Cook-Gumperz
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Speech Communication, Education, Multilingual, and Education, English as a Second Language
Workplace Communication
Beusiness Negotiation
Power and Politeness
Teaching ESL
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Education
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2013

Both educational and business sectors in Thailand are monitoring the social phenomena associated with managing the transition to a Thai-English bilingual society as the country is merging with other Southeast Asian countries to become a part of ASEAN community in 2015. The goals of this study are to explore how English is presently used in workplaces in Thailand and to suggest how English communication might be improved in intercultural workplace settings. This study employs an ethnographic approach; I conducted participant observation over the course of six months at two separate workplace settings in Thailand, both of which use English as the primary medium of communication and represent two major types of Thailand workplaces in globalized business contexts. The dataset consists of ethnographic fieldnotes and audio-recordings of naturally occurring conversations in the two different workplace situations: business negotiations and staff meetings. I take interactional sociolinguistic (IS) and pragmatic analysis as standpoints and discuss how Thai culture influences the discourse of participants in the two workplaces.

The findings reveal three overarching aspects of Thai cultures influencing functional cultures in Thai workplaces: paying respect to social and institutional hierarchy, avoiding direct confrontation, and maintaining group harmony. In addition, indirectness is identified as the preferred negotiation style used by participants in the two workplaces. However, based on the data, indirectness was used more often in the staff meetings than in the business negotiation. The results therefore argue that the degree of direct and indirect negotiation style is not dependent on the cultural backgrounds of interlocutors or the culture of the wider society. On the contrary, the nature of the encounter, the relationship between interlocutors and the cost of negotiation are indicators that participants use explicitly and implicitly to determine the power differences and to choose the appropriate socio-pragmatic conventions to communicate in order to achieve their personal and organizational goals. Some pedagogical and research implications are provided as guidelines for future researchers, curriculum designers, and language teachers on teaching Business English courses and also teaching culture in the language classroom in the current and future time of the growing globalized economy.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (197 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Ornkanya Yaoharee
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