Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Adult Education and Human Resource Development

First Advisor's Name

Thomas Reio, Jr.

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Benjamin Baez

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Sarah Mathews

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee members

Fourth Advisor's Name

Maria Elena Villar

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


accent, career development, code-switching, Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT), communication adjustment, intercultural communication

Date of Defense



Organizations are encountering a more diverse workforce as the world experiences an increase in immigration and globalization. Some of these employees are immigrants from Caribbean islands such as the Bahamas, Barbados, and Jamaica. These employees speak English with an accent different from the American standard and oftentimes find themselves at a disadvantage when seeking career development opportunities. Current studies on intercultural communication tend to examine the Asian, European, and African American accent in relation to education, business, and career development. There are no studies that explore the role of intercultural communication, specifically the English-speaking Caribbean accent, on career development. The purpose of this basic interpretive qualitative study is to describe the personal experiences of employees from various cultures with non-native accents and explore how their accents have been linked to their career development. This study used Super’s (1950) Career Development theory and Giles’ (1973) Communication Accommodation theory to explore the role of accent on career development. Super’s Career Development theory discusses the three frameworks (self-concept, life-space, and life-span) that influence a person’s career development, while Giles’ Communication Accommodation theory discusses the reasons why a person may adjust their accent, speech, and dialect. Structured interviews were used to obtain information from ten participants with Caribbean backgrounds. The participants shared their experiences as employees who speak English with a Caribbean accent. The information was analyzed using McCracken’s (1998) five-stage interpretive process, and Miles and Huberman (1994) analytical method.

Employees with non-native accents believe that their accents influence their colleagues’ perception of their abilities, and that their accents prevent them from getting jobs and being promoted. Employees also believe that they are discriminated against because of their Caribbean accents. Because of this perception, employees who speak with accented English adjust their accents so that they are more acceptable in the workplace.





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