International business and the Balti of meaning: Food for thought
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the interactive processes linking lived embodied experiences, language and cognition (body-talk-mind) and their implications for organizational change. Design/methodology/approach-The authors use an "embodied realism" approach to examine how people feel/perceive/act (embodied experiences), how they make sense of their experiences (cognition) and how they use language and communication to "talk sense" into their social reality. To exemplify the framework, the authors use a cooking metaphor. In this metaphor, language is the "sauce", the catalyst, which blends raw, embodied, "lived" experience with consequent rationalizations ("cooking up") of experience. To demonstrate the approach, the authors employ the study of a Chinese multinational subsidiary in Bangkok, Thailand, where participants were encouraged to build embodied models and tell their stories through them. Findings-The authors found that participants used embodied metaphors in a number of ways (positive and negative connotations) in different contexts (single or multicultural groups) for different purposes. Participants could be said to be "cooking up" realities according to the situated context. The methodology stimulated an uncovering of ineffable, tacit or sensitive issues that were problematic or potentially problematic within the organization. Originality/value-The authors bring back the importance of lived embodied experiences, language and cognition into IB research. The authors suggest that embodied metaphors capture descriptions of reality that stimulate reflexivity, uncover suppressed organizational problems and promote the contestation of received wisdoms when organizational change is pressing and urgent. The authors see the approach as offering the potential to give voice to embodied cultures throughout the world and thereby make IB research more practically relevant.
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