My PhD years at the University of Gothenburg and this thesis has had mentorship from numerous outstanding individuals both from within the university and outside of it. It is to these individuals, including the Scandinavian and Asian respondents that took part in my study, that my heartfelt gratitude and thanks go out to, for without their help, this thesis would not have seen its ISBN number.
First and foremost I would like to thank my parents Rita and Adrian Cordeiro and my brother Kevin who through my childhood and study career always encouraged me to follow my heart and inquisitive mind in any direction this took me. My parents provided me with a loving home, and one where an academic mind was celebrated. If we ever had a family motto that would have been 'If there's a will, there's a way' a philosophy of life I have been carrying with me every day.
I grew up in the Republic of Singapore. The history of this city state is not older than that I have followed much of its development myself, from its modest situation after its separation from Malaysia in 1965 towards becoming a small but modern state, with its gross domestic product (GDP) per capita ranking among the highest in the world. Singapore has accomplished this and several other milestones without basically any natural resources at all. In fact, Singapore does not even have enough natural freshwater resources to sustain its own population. I could not help but ask myself, how did Singapore make all this possible?
Singapore is also multi-cultural and multi-religious, with always some kind of celebration going on somewhere. The cultural beliefs and obligations were legion. My school- and classmates were Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians and Arabs etc, all living as far as I could tell happily together. As I grew up I was surprised to understand that this was not always the case in many other places of the world. Here again, I could not help but ask, how does Singapore handle this multi cultural fabric of its society?
Later, during my university years and while studying towards two separate Masters degrees I got to notice that there were many foreigners coming to Singapore to set up and run Asian market head offices. Among those were many Swedish organizations. It was obvious to me that these foreign companies were part of the fabric that made Singapore successful.
Eventually my inquiring mind put me in contact with Jan-Erik Nilsson in Sweden who, being one of the founding fathers of the Swedish East Indiaman Gotheborg III ship project, had a lot of thoughts on this subject.
It was our discussions around the peaceful and profitable historical Swedish – Asian trade adventures of days gone by and its modern continuation in Singapore that eventually led to the beginnings of this PhD thesis.
Through our long discussions the design for this research project grew, and an idea towards a proposal was founded. It was clear that if both our curiosities should be satisfied this study would need to cover several disciplines while being solidly founded within the field of linguistics and the study of language in use.
To actualize the proposal, we needed to seek like-minded individuals to whom we could explain our enthusiasm for a research study situated in a cross-cultural working environment.
Through Jan-Erik Nilsson I was introduced to Professor Jens Allwood, at the time was the Head of the Linguistics Department of the University of Gothenburg. Through him, I found myself a place as a doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg, and could also gratefully acknowledge an initial funding for the first four years of my research through a grant from the Anna Ahrenberg Foundation.
After the data was collected in Singapore during 2004, in the form of 33 long interviews, and after they were transcribed, coded and structured, I needed further insights in the characteristics of Swedish management abroad. Through Jens Allwood I was introduced to Professor Sten Jönsson, at the School of Business, Economics and Law of the University of Gothenburg, then Head of the Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
In the early 2000 Sten Jönsson had been spearheading studies in the field of Swedish management. My meetings with him were instrumental in confirming that there indeed was such a thing as a recognized Swedish management style and helped focus my research to the field of Swedish management in Singapore as a comparative study of management styles.
As the thesis progressed, eventually the sociolinguistic aspects of discourse analysis in the study needed to be addressed. At this stage in the thesis writing I was lucky to be able to consult with Professor Sally Boyd, Dean of the Humanities Faculty at the University of Gothenburg. I am grateful for her steady encouragement and infinite attention to details that has ensured the quality of my work and who saw me through to the end of this project. Despite her busy schedule, she always found the time to discuss my ideas for this thesis, helping shape, mould and push the writing process forward and through to its completion.
The analysis phase of the research called for the application of a systemics functional linguistics (SFL) framework and critical discourse analysis (CDA). For expertise and help in this, I turned to Professor Joseph Foley, head of the Graduate School of English at the University of Assumption, Bangkok, Thailand.
Joseph Foley is someone I have known and admired for a long time. I got to know him when he was the head of the English Language and Literature Department during my years at the National University of Singapore (NUS) where he was my supervisor during my English Language Masters years. I would especially like to thank him for his clear sighted help in limiting my scope of research to the most significant parts of the data, and for his help in formulating the linguistic framework for the discourse analysis chapters. I am grateful most of all for his confidence in me as well as his rock steady guidance and encouragement.
Apart from being my in intellectual sounding board and partner, my husband Jan-Erik Nilsson has been my emotional base when living and working in Sweden. I have written this dissertation with him by my side, bantering and exchanging ideas. If this work could open doors for us both, I would gladly step through them with him.
All in all I feel very privileged to have been allowed to get to know and to learn from so many of the foremost specialists in their field during my research studies. I hope that you are not too unhappy about the fact that I for this study could not specialize on any one of your own favourite fields which I much admire, but that my own research interest made it necessary for me to rather touch on many areas of expertise, and combining them for my own purpose, without even me knowing exactly what my next step would be. It is my hope that this study has helped moving the frontiers somewhat forward regarding the use of applied linguistics onto questions on Business administration.
Thank you all for your help, insights, guidance and support.
Cheryl Marie Cordeiro-Nilsson