Analyzing cultural expatriates' attitudes toward “Englishnization” using dynamic topic modeling


  • Ziyuan Zhang Norwegian School of Economics



cultural expatriates, corporate language policy, social media, computational sociolinguistics, dynamic topic modeling, Englishnization


Several Japanese multinational corporations (MNCs) have recently adopted an English-only policy known as “Englishnization”. This study examines the impact of this policy using computer-assisted text analysis to investigate changes in cultural expatriates’ perceptions of Japanese work practices and values over time. Cultural expatriates are a significant but underexplored outcome of globalization. Despite the recent proliferation of studies on the internationalization of Japanese MNCs, few studies have focused on cultural expatriates' perceptions of corporate language policy in social media texts. This study analyzes a corpus of 208 posts from Rakuten, a Japanese MNC, on Glassdoor from 2009 to 2020. The findings suggest that these posts can be divided into three content groups: the threat of a foreign corporate culture, embracing the Rakuten way, and perceptions of leadership and marginalized status. Further, the posts reveal how Rakuten’s corporate language policy, as an instrument of internal internationalization, impacts external internationalization. The dynamics of “Englishnization’’ reveal a pressing issue facing Rakuten: namely, how to balance multinational cohesion with monolingualism and multiculturalism. This paper aims to demonstrate that dynamic topic modeling could enhance our understanding of the manner in which cultural expatriates and the English-only policy affect the internationalization of Japanese MNCs. It contributes to the literature by examining cultural expatriates’ perceptions of Japanese work practices and values from a diachronic perspective.


Download data is not yet available.


Alalwan, Ali Abdallah. 2018. "Investigating the Impact of Social Media Advertising Features on Customer Purchase Intention." International Journal of Information Management 42: 65-77.

Beamish, Paul W., and Andrew C. Inkpen. 1998. "Japanese Firms and the Decline of the Japanese Expatriate." Journal of World Business 33 (1): 35-50.

Black, J., and A. Morrison. 2010. Sunset in the Land of the Rising Sun: Why Japanese Multinational Corporations Will Struggle in the Global Future. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Blei, David M. 2012. "Probabilistic topic models." Communications of the ACM 55(4): 77-84.

Blei, David M., Andrew Y. Ng, and Michael I. Jordan. 2003. "Latent Dirichlet allocation." Journal of Machine Research 3: 993-1022.

Blei, David M, and John D. Lafferty. 2006. "Dynamic Topic Models." In Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Machine Learning, 113-120.

Brannen, Mary Yoko, and David C. Thomas. 2010. "Bicultural Individuals in Organizations: Implications and Opportunity." International Journal of Cross Cultural Management 10(1): 5-16.

Brannen, Mary Yoko, Dominie Garcia, and David C. Thomas. 2009. "Biculturals as Natural Bridges for Intercultural Communication and Collaboration." In Proceedings of the 2009 International Workshop on Intercultural Collaboration, 207-210.

Bucholtz, Mary, and Kira Hall. 2005. "Identity and Interaction: A Sociocultural Linguistic Approach." Discourse Studies 7(4-5): 585-614.

Chandelier, Marie, Agnes Steuckardt, Raphael Mathevet, Sascha Diwersy, and Olivier Gimenez. 2018. "Content Analysis of Newspaper Coverage of Wolf Recolonization in France using Structural Topic Modeling." Biological Conservation 220: 254-261.

Chung, Neo Christopher, BłaŻej Miasojedow, Michał Startek, and Anna Gambin. 2019. "Jaccard/Tanimoto Similarity Test and Estimation Methods for Biological Presence-Absence Data." BMC Bioinformatics 20(15): 1-11.

Cogo, Alessia and Yanaprasart, Patchareerat. 2018. "English is the language of business": An exploration of language ideologies in two European corporate contexts." In English in Business and Commerce: Interactions and Policies; English in Europe, Volume 5, edited by Tamah Sherman and Jiri Nekvapil, 96-116. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.

Conrad, Harald, and Hendrik Meyer-Ohle. 2019. Overcoming the Ethnocentric Firm? - Foreign Fresh University Graduate Employment in Japan as a New International Human Resource Development Method. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 30(17): 2525-2543.

Elangovan, Vinodh Krishnan, and Jacob Eisenstein. 2015. "You're Mr. Lebowski, I'm the Dude": Inducing Address Term Formality in Signed Social Networks. In Proceedings of the 2015 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics - Human Language Technologies. 1616-1626.

Froese, Fabian J., and Yasuyuki Kishi. 2013. "Organizational Attractiveness of Foreign Firms in Asia: Soft Power Matters." Asian Business & Management 12(3): 281-297.

Gaibrois, Claudine. 2015. "Power at Work: the Discursive Construction of Power Relations in Multilingual Organizations." Thesis. Bamberg: Difo-Druck.

Giddens, Anthony. 1991. Modernity and Self-identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern age. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Hong, Liangjie, and Brian D. Davison. 2010. "Empirical Study of Topic Modeling in Twitter." In Proceedings of the First Workshop on Social Media Analytics - SOMA '10.

Jacoby, Sanford M. 2005. "Business and Society in Japan and the United States." British Journal of Industrial Relations 43(4): 617.

Jameson, Daphne A. 2007. "Reconceptualizing Cultural Identity and its Role in Intercultural Business Communication." The Journal of Business Communication (1973) 44(3): 199-235.

Johannsen, Anders, Dirk Hovy, and Anders Søgaard. 2015. "Cross-lingual Syntactic Variation over Age and Gender." In Proceedings of the Nineteenth Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning, 103-112.

Kankaanranta, Anne, and Wei Lu. 2013. "The Evolution of English as the Business Lingua Franca: Signs of Convergence in Chinese and Finnish Professional Communication." Journal of Business and Technical Communication 27(3): 288-307.

Keeley, Tim. 2001. International Human Resource Management in Japanese Firms: Their Greatest Challenge. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Kopp, Rochelle. 1994a. "International Human Resource Policies and Practices in Japanese, European, and United States Multinationals." Human Resource Management 33(4): 581-599.

Kopp, Rochelle. 1994b. The Rice-paper Ceiling: Breaking Through Japanese Corporate Culture. Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press.

Kwok, Linchi, and Bei Yu. 2013. "Spreading Social Media Messages on Facebook: An Analysis of Restaurant Business-to-Consumer Communications." Cornell Hospitality Quarterly 54(1): 84-94.

Luo, Ning, Yilu Zhou, and John Shon. 2016. "Employee Satisfaction and Corporate Performance: Mining Employee Reviews on". In Proceedings of the 2016 International Conference on Information Systems. 1-16.

Martin, Roger L. 2009. The Opposable Mind How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Milroy, Lesley, and Matthew Gordon. 2008. Sociolinguistics: Method and Interpretation, vol. 13. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Moniz, Andy. 2016. "Inferring Employees' Social Media Perceptions of Goal-setting Corporate Cultures and the Link to Firm Value." Unpublished Working Paper.

Morishima, Motohiro. 1995. "Embedding HRM in a Social Context." British Journal of Industrial Relations 33(4): 617-640.

Neeley, Tsedal. 2011. "Language and Globalization: 'Englishnization' at Rakuten." Harvard Business School Organizational Behavior Unit Case (412-002).

Neeley, Tsedal. 2017. The Language of Global Success: How a Common Tongue Transforms Multinational Organizations. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Nelson, Laura K. 2020. "Computational Grounded Theory: A Methodological Framework." Sociological Methods & Research 49(1): 3-42.

Nguyen, Dong, A Seza Doğruöz, Carolyn P Rosé, and Franciska De Jong. 2016. "Computational Sociolinguistics: A Survey." Computational Linguistics 42(3): 537-593.

Nguyen, Dong, Dolf Trieschnigg, and Theo Meder. 2014. "Tweetgenie: Development, Evaluation, and Lessons Learned." In Proceedings of Coling 2014, the 25th International Conference on Computational Linguistics: System Demonstrations, 62-66.

Nixon, Richard Mark. 2015. "Workplace English Usage in Japan." The Journal of the Faculty of Foreign Studies 47: 21-34.

Ringberg, Torsten V., David Luna, Markus Reihlen, and Laura A. Peracchio. 2010. "Bicultural-bilinguals: The Effect of Cultural Frame Switching on Translation Equivalence." International Journal of Cross Cultural Management 10(1): 77-92.

Rumsey, Alan. "Wording, Meaning, and Linguistic Ideology." 1990. American Anthropologist 92, no. 2: 346-61.

Schaaper, Johannes, Bruno Amann, Jacques Jaussaud, Hiroyuki Nakamura, and Shuji Mizoguchi. 2013. "Human Resource Management in Asian Subsidiaries: Comparison of French and Japanese MNCs." The International Journal of Human Resource Management 24 (7): 1454-70.

Sekiguchi, Tomoki, Fabian Jintae Froese, and Chie Iguchi. 2016. "International Human Resource Management of Japanese Multinational Corporations: Challenges and Future Directions." Asian Business & Management 15(2): 83-109.

Shiraki, Mitsuhide. 2007. Role of Japanese Expatriates in Japanese Multinational Corporations: From the Perspective of the Multinational Internal Labor Market." Working Paper No.42. Tokyo: School of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University.

Tagliamonte, Sali A. 2006. Analysing Sociolinguistic Variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tanimoto, Taffee T. 1958. "Elementary Mathematical Theory of Classification and Prediction." International Business Machines Corp.

Törnberg, Anton, and Petter Törnberg. 2016. "Combining CDA and Topic Modeling: Analyzing Discursive Connections Between Islamophobia and Anti-feminism on an Online Forum." Discourse & Society 27(4): 401-422.

Tung, Rosalie L. 1984. "Strategic Management of Human Resources in the Multinational Enterprise." Human Resource Management 23(2): 129-143.

Vayansky, Ike, and Sathish A.P. Kumar. 2020. "A Review of Topic Modeling Methods." Information Systems 94: 101582.

Welch, Denice E., and Lawrence S. Welch. 2008. "The Importance of Language in International Knowledge Transfer." Management International Review 48(3): 339-60.

Wong, Heung Wah. 2010. "Why a Globalizing Corporate Culture Still Inhibits Localization of Management; the Yaohan Case." Sangyō Keiei Kenkyū 32(1): 31-48.

Wong, May M.L. 1996. "Shadow Management in Japanese Companies in Hong Kong." Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources 34(1): 95-110.

Xiang, Zheng, Qianzhou Du, Yufeng Ma, and Weiguo Fan. 2017. "A Comparative Analysis of Major Online Review Platforms: Implications for Social Media Analytics in Hospitality and Tourism." Tourism Management 58: 51-65.

Yagi, Noriko, and Jill Kleinberg. 2011. "Boundary Work: An Interpretive Ethnographic Perspective on Negotiating and Leveraging Cross-cultural Identity." Journal of International Business Studies 42(5): 629-653.

Zhang, Ziyuan. 2021a. "Content Analysis of Language-Sensitive Recruitment Influenced by Corporate Language Policy Using Topic Modeling." HERMES - Journal of Language and Communication in Business, no. 61: 77-91.

Zhang, Ziyuan. 2021b. "It is All about Topic: Discovering Topics and Trends in Employee Perceptions of Corporate Language Policy." Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development: 1-19.