Enhancing and Promoting International Business Communication

Enhancing and Promoting International Business Communication supports SMEs to improve their international competitiveness.

It has been found that, companies which undergo a proper (i.e. regulated) communication audit tend to operate more effectively in selling their goods and services into markets where their mother tongue is not spoken. By signing up and taking part in the audit scheme, the companies are taught intercultural skills and communication skills, which are reflected in an increased annual turnover.

The EPIC scheme helps businesses overcome language and cultural barriers in international trading.

EPIC offers the business person and entrepreneur an innovative way of trading internationally by using a business manual specifically designed for the exporting industry. It promotes a multi-cultural Europe within a common European framework by operating from a common platform and distinguishing each company’s individual recipe for success through a close up auditing process.

EPIC offers the private business sector a unique opportunity to adopt a scheme, which when implemented will help raise the individual trader’s turnover and create new possibilities for expanded cross-border trade.


The ‘Hard’ Evidence

bossLet me turn to the two underpinning pieces of research which have led to the development of the LCA which have been critical in its initiation, design and development. The ELAN Study undertaken in 2006 found that a significant amount of business was being lost in Europe as a result of a lack of language skills. Across the sample of some 2000 SMEs, 11% had lost a contract as a result of a lack of language skills. The survey identified situations where companies were aware of the business lost or potentially lost due to language and/or cultural barriers, but the real figure was likely to have been under-reported.

In summary, the ELAN research told us:

  • Nearly 1million European companies may have lost a contract for lack of foreign languages;
  • Average loss per business over three years adds up to at least €325,000;
  • Total loss could be in the region of €100 billion pa;
  • 40% of companies expected to acquire new language skills in the near future.

From the research, four characteristics of companies were found to be associated with higher performance in international trade: namely, the employment of native speakers; recruiting employees with existing language skills; using professional interpreters and translators; and having a language management plan (or strategy) in place. SMEs investing in these four elements achieved export sales nearly 45% higher than those not making any of these investments.

Stephen Hagen (Prof)
Director, Semantica Ltd.,
Bath, UK