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PhD Research School in Linguistics and Philology

Kristin Rygg

Direct and Indirect Communicative Styles. A Study in Sociopragmatics and Intercultural Communication. Based on 41 Interview Discourses with Norwegian and Japanese Business Executives.

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Initial project description:

According to many theories within the field of intercultural communication (Hall 1976, Hui & Triandis 1986, Rosch & Segler 1987, Hofstede 1980/2001, Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner 2001), Norwegian (Scandinavian) and Japanese communication are diametrically opposite. Norwegians are prominently “direct” low context communicators, whereas the Japanese are typically “indirect” high context communicators. Based on this assumption, one might assume that it is especially difficult for Norwegians and Japanese to communicate. What experiences do Japanese and Norwegians business colleagues have? Are Japanese and Norwegians perceived as opposites? Interviews among 20 Norwegian and 20 Japanese business leaders in Japan are expected to provide some useful insights into these questions.

Although the field of Intercultural Communication was founded as a result of a collaboration between linguists and anthropologists (Hall 1959), terms frequently used in the field to explain cultural differences such as “direct” and “indirect” seem often to be used without a linguistic theory at its base. The interviews are to be analyzed with a view manifestation of directness and indirectness from a linguistic perspective.  

A third research question is the question of acculturation. Do Japanese and Norwegian business leaders stay opposites or are there any tendencies of change as a result of working together over time?
My project is within the fields of pragmatics, discourse analysis and intercultural communication. The last research question will also have to draw on knowledge from Anthropology.

Rygg successfully defended her thesis on 1 June 2012.