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Sarbari Bordia is an Associate Professor of Management and the Deputy Director of Higher Degree Research for the ANU College of Business and Economics’ Research School of Management.
Sarbari began her career teaching English to international students before transitioning to academia, where her research focuses on multilingualism in corporate communication.
“The use of different languages in multinational corporations (MNCs) and their subsidiaries impacts both organisational processes and employees. My approach is driven by employees’ social identities, in particular linguistic identities,” she explains.
Using inductive qualitative research methodologies, Sarbari’s research shows that individuals with strong first-language identities find it psychologically distressing to work with an alternate linguistic identity, regardless of their proficiency in it.
“Our knowledge of the world around us, including the workplace, is driven by the languages we speak. Hence, working in a different language, either a lingua franca such as English, or an MNC home country language such as Japanese, poses some psychological and practical challenges for individuals in MNC subsidiaries in host locations.”
Sarbari’s work appears in leading academic journals including the Journal of International Business Studies, Human Relations, Journal of Management, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Journal of Business and Psychology, and the Australian Review of Applied Linguistics. This includes her studies on socio-cognitive and psychological contract aspects of career persistence, which were funded by the Australian Research Council. Sarbari is also the Co-Editor of the Journal of International Education in Business.
Sarbari’s teaching in communication, cross-cultural management and qualitative research methodologies are all influenced by her research in corporate communication, multilingualism in the workplace, and her use or and innovation in qualitative research methodologies in the workplace context. “My research and teaching are heavily intertwined. I use my research as examples of contemporary workplace challenges and opportunities. Equally, my students’ views on research by me and other scholars discussed in class gives me ideas for future research,” she says.
Indeed, it was Sarbari’s research that formed the basis for her ‘Noodle bar assessment strategy’, something she sees as a highlight of her teaching career.
Published in the 2019 Palgrave Handbook of Learning and Teaching International Business and Management, the strategy allows students some choice when selecting their assignment topics and, as such, derives its name from the noodle bars where customers choose the combination of ingredients they want to eat.
“The strategy helps students cater their learning to topics that matter most to them. Students are likely to remember what they learnt and utilise it in the future if it is around issues that are meaningful to them, personally and professionally,” she explains.
To counter a challenging COVID-dominant year, Sarbari found comfort in reading; referencing other cultures and their various food histories, but mainly through novels written by female authors such as Palace of illusion by Chitra Banerjee Devakaruni, Eva Luna by Isabel Allende, and The bluest eye by Toni Morison.
“These authors and their strong female characters give me solace, wisdom, strength and the humour to tackle life,” she shares.
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Photo credit: CBE