Unbundling the differences between Psychic and Cultural Distance: An empirical examination of the existing measures

The diversity between the country-scores of Hofstede, Schwartz, GLOBE, Håkanson and Ambos and Dow and Karunaratna is the main focus of this study by PhD student, Anthoula Avloniti, and  Dr Fragkiskos Filippaios of Kent Business School.

To investigate the correlation between the country-scores of these CD (Cultural Distance), pPD (perceived Psychic Distance) and PDs (Psychic Distance stimuli) instruments we apply the Mantel test, a test predominantly used in anthropology and genetics, which can be particularly insightful when examining “distance” data. The matrix correlation findings provide evidence supporting the high diversity between these measures and their lack of consistent results for the same countries. Therefore, despite the similarity between the way of conceptualizing and operationalizing CD that Hofstede, Schwartz and GLOBE share, these CD measures do not report consistent findings. Consistently, the lack of correlation, between the PDs measure of Dow & Karunaratna and pPD of Håkanson & Ambos, indicates the diversity between PD stimuli measures and perceived PD measures. At the same time, while the two Psychic Distance (PD) measures indicate high correlation in some cases, overall they are highly diverse from the CD measures. We argue, therefore, that identical studies could reach significantly different conclusions by simply using different measures of CD,pPD&PDs which then denotes significant implications for the reliability of research findings. Additionally, we point out potential weaknesses of these measures when examining culturally proximate countries and multicultural nations.

This research was published in the June 2014 issue of International Business Review



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