What is a Good Translator in Organizations? A Prescriptive Perspective.

Søren Obed Madsen

Publikation: Working paper


Even though the concept of translation has been widely used in organization theory and the agency of the translator has been acknowledged, there haven’t been studies that focus on the prescriptive aspects such as what is a good translator? Nevertheless, the concepts of translation quality and competences indicate that a translator can be more or less competent. In order to explore what is a good translator in organizations, this paper draws on translation studies as the theoretically frame and uses the concepts of translation quality and competences to analyze 64 interviews about their organizational strategy. The interviews were conducted with middle managers and employees from three public organizations. As expected from the theory, a good translator has certain translation competences but the empirical findings also show that the working conditions play a crucial rule in order to create a good translation. The results show that a good translator can identify the basic idea in the strategy, is able to translate the abstracts concepts in the strategy document to concrete concepts in their own context and can handle the ambiguity in these abstract concepts. Since an organization has many texts, the translator also has to be able to distinguish the source text from other texts in the organizations that are similar to the source text. The individual competences cannot stand-alone since the working conditions can constrain or support the ability to use these competences. The translator can affect these working conditions by facilitating a process that creates a common language. This paper contributes to translation theory by adding the prescriptive aspects to the existing descriptions of how actors translate in organisations.
UdgiverCopenhagen Business School
StatusUdgivet - 2019