The concept of 'distance' has been used by international business scholars to explain variations in international business strategies and operations across countries. The more distant a host country is from the organizational centre of a multinational enterprise (MNE), the more it has to manage cultural, regulatory and cognitive differences, and to develop appropriate entry strategies, organizational forms, and internal procedures to accommodate these differences. Scholarly research has focused on the concept of psychic distance, which has been narrowed down in empirical work to indices based on Hofstede's work on culture. However, these measures capture only very partially the dimensions of distance of concern to international business. This paper shows how the broader theoretical concept of institutional distance, which incorporates normative, regulatory and cognitive aspects, affects entry strategies. Specifically, our theoretical arguments suggest that the impact of distance varies with different aspects of the concept of institutional distance, and that this impact interacts with both the investor's experience and with the relative importance of the pertinent operation for the investing MNE. Using a unique dataset of foreign direct investment in emerging economies that incorporates multi-host as well as multi-home countries, empirical support is found for the propositions, and an explanation provided for apparently inconsistent results in the previous literature.
Discussion Paper Series, Centre for New and Emerging Markets, London Business School, No. 34, London, UK, 39 pp.