Purpose: There have been numerous studies analyzing the role of psychic (and cultural) distance in the internationalization process focused on relationships between distance and market selection, entry mode, or subsidiary performance. Still, cumulative findings of this body of research are mixed and inconclusive. Thus, this review aims for a rigorous presentation of past research on psychic distance, with particular focus on the aspects of international business operations affected by psychic distance in the light of empirical studies.
Methodology: This review encompasses 55 papers, both empirical and conceptual, published between 1990–2015 in top IB, international marketing, and management journals. In general, the papers under review were published in 27 journals, with the vast majority of them being published in 2005 or later. The vast majority of reviewed papers are of empirical character (47 papers), while eight are conceptual.
Findings: Since 2005, the number of articles published in top academic journals that featured the term “psychic distance” in the title has quadrupled. Common research topics include not only the core domain of internationalization process and performance, but also focus on understanding the concept of psychic distance, analyzing its antecedents and coping modes. Other studies have addressed the performance implications of psychic distance in conjunction with variables like strategy adaptation to foreign markets.
Research limitations/implications: While the present review is limited in the number of papers taken into account, it does provide an initial overview of the structure of the field. However, the comparability of findings of different studies is limited by factors such as firm samples or presence of multicultural nations. In terms of directions for further research, promising topics include the relationship between perceived and ‘real’ distances or the effectiveness of different coping modes.
Originality/value: The present paper identifies key research streams related to psychic distance and its role for international business. Based on an analysis of their content, it outlines several avenues for further investigation.