22 SES 04 D, Governance, Diversity & Inclusion
Research in education economics shows an increasing popularity of analysing and discussing the value of language skills. Language skills are frequently depicted as an important resource on the job market and in multinational organisations both in the public and private sector. Broadly applying human capital theory as a research paradigm, it has been established that acquiring languages can increase the human capital embodied in the individual and, moreover, that multilingual employees are an important resource in any company or organisation (Chiswick and Miller 1995, Grin 2002, 2003). Analysing and establishing the potential value of foreign language skills and applying this to a particular organisation gives rise to questions of ideal language management and language policy issues. In this context, a great deal of recent research has identified the theme of ‘Efficiency and Fairness’ in multilingual communication of bigger organisations and in the assessment of their respective language policies (Grin 2015, Grin and Gazzola 2013).
Taking the University of Hamburg as a case study, a team of researchers is exploring the potential of multilingualism among the university staff. This is a particularly interesting endeavour considering the historically strictly-monolingual practices of state funded German universities. In this context, there are two important phenomena, which hypothetically make the university a more multilingual organisation than one may assume. The first one is concerned with external realities of multilingualism. Just like a lot of other metropolitan European cities, Hamburg is a highly multilingual environment. While it is unknown how many languages exactly are spoken in Hamburg, data shows that migrants from approximately 190 countries live and work in the city (Gogolin et al. 2015). The proportion of people living in Hamburg with migrant backgrounds is approximately 30% (Federal Statistical Office for Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg, 2015). Based on this, it is important to uncover the multilingual realities of the university as a workplace. Secondly, just like many other higher education institutions, there is an ever increasing trend for internationalisation of the University of Hamburg. This means, among other things, that the university attracts an increasing amount of foreign students, some of whom do not speak German. Moreover, figures show that more and more courses are taught through languages other than German and that the number of international researchers hired by the university is higher than ever.
We hypothesise that the two above-mentioned phenomena have a number of important implications for the institution’s governance. The project, therefore, aims to address the following research questions: What is the multilingual repertoire of the university’s employees? Where and how are foreign language skills used in the daily working context? In which communication scenarios is it beneficial or even necessary to speak languages other than German? How are foreign language skills valued and used in the university’s governance?
Chiswick, B. R. and P. W. Miller, 1995. The endogeneity between language and earnings: International analyses, Journal of Labor Economics 13, pp: 246-88. Council of Europe, 2001. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Federal Statistical Office for Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg, 2015. Bevölkerung mit Migrationshintergrund in den Hamburger Stadtteilen. Online source: https://www.statistik-nord.de/daten/bevoelkerung-und-gebiet/familienstand-ehe-einbuergerungen/dokumentenansicht/bevoelkerung-mit-migrationshintergrund-in-den-hamburger-stadtteilen-ende-2012/. Accessed 30 December 2015. Gogolin, I., J. Duarte, A. Hansen and S. McMonagle, 2015. Multilingualism in Hamburg. London: London School of Economics and Political Science / The Languages Company. Grin, F., 2002. Using Language Economics and Education Economics in Language Education Policy. Strasbourg: Council of Europe. Grin, F., 2003. Language planning and economics, Current Issues in Language Planning 4, pp: 1-66. Grin, F., 2015. Managing languages in academia: Pointers from education economics and language economics, in G. Stickel and C. Robustelli (eds), Language Use in University Teaching and Research. Duisburg Papers on Research in Language and Culture, Vol 109. Frankfurt, New York and Oxford: Peter Lang. Grin, F. and M. Gazzola, 2013. Assessing efficiency and fairness in multilingual communication: Theory and application through indicators, in A.-C. Berthoud, F. Grin and Georges Lüdi (eds), Exploring the Dynamics of Multilingualsm, pp: 365-86. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
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