The Role of Psychic Distance in International Trade: A Longitudinal Analysis

    Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the importance to international trade of impediments related to, first, geographic distance, such as freight and other costs related to the movement of physical goods, and second, “psychic distance”, such as the costs and difficulties of transferring and interpreting the information necessary to effect international transactions.
    Design/methodology/approach – The paper highlights that psychic distance perceptions between countries are not symmetric and that both exporters’ and importers’ perceptions are important. The empirical analysis covers international trade in three categories of goods among 25 major trading nations for the period 1962-2008, employing structural equation modeling, incorporating the mutual interdependence of the distance measures.
    Findings – Exporters’ perceptions are more important for trade in differentiated products than for standardized goods, which conversely are more strongly influenced by those of importers. Over time, the impact of both types of psychic distance has declined due to the dramatic improvements in communication and information technologies of recent decades. International markets have thereby become increasingly transparent, facilitating the matching of geographically proximate buyers and sellers in order to minimize transportation costs. These changes fundamentally affect the competitive landscape both for firms that seek to market their goods and services internationally and for domestic firms that face new and more intense competition from foreign rivals.
    Originality/value – The paper employs simultaneously a statistical methodology novel to the field and – for the first time in the literature – asymmetric measures of psychic distances as perceived by importers and exporters, respectively. Applying the methodology to different categories of goods demonstrates long-term trends in the differential impact of geographic and psychic distances.
    TidsskriftInternational Marketing Review
    Udgave nummer3
    Sider (fra-til)210-236
    StatusUdgivet - 2014


    • International trade
    • Globalization
    • Psychic distance
    • Distance elasticity of trade
    • Gravity models
    • Linear structure equation modelling