12.2.2 Why and where does foreign language competence matter in innovation processes?

An international car manufacturer had developed a new model - Chevy “Nova” and started to export to Spain. Even people who do not speak Spanish know that “Nueva” means “new” and marketing and sales had the idea to sell the product under this name as an innovative product conveying advanced technology and design. What they didn’t know nor expected was that inventive Spanish customers very soon spelled the name in a different way: “no vá”, which means “it doesn’t work” …

Spanish customers would be surprised and confused if Mazda had decided to sell the model Mazda Laputa under this name– “la puta” means “prostitute” in Spanish… There are a lot of similar examples and special efforts are often made to check if the proposed name for a product could provoke positive or negative associations with customers in the country of destination.

However, this is only one aspect to demonstrate the importance of correct language application in the market.

Foreign language competence can support all steps of innovation:

 Figure 1 Foreign language competence in Innovation

Please stop and think:
How important are currently foreign language skills for you and your organisation when dealing with innovation and international market requirements?
What can you conclude from the graphic on Foreign Language competence in Innovation?
Are you competent and active in relevant fields?
It can be useful to take note of conclusions for further action .

Using competence from abroad for innovation

It has never been easier to access worldwide information particularly for small companies who do not have the in-house R&D resources to search for and acquire innovative products and solutions.
“Know-how” can be acquired especially from countries where the workforce is significantly cheaper. There are many elements that need to be considered in order to make such a transfer successful; and language and intercultural competence is one obvious one.

Highly educated immigrants working and living in our countries are waiting for a chance to demonstrate their qualifications and abilities to establish personal and business contacts in their countries of origin. Why don’t we use their language and cultural competencies?