Psychic Distance, its Business Impact and Modes of Coping: A Study of British and Indian Partner SMEs

Pushyarag N Puthusserry, John Child, Suzana Rodrigues

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18 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports one of the first investigations to analyze inter-partner perceptions of psychic distance between two countries. Its empirical focus is British and Indian SMEs engaged in business with each other. It examines different dimensions of psychic distance, their impact and modes of coping with them. Potential firm-level and individual influences are also taken into account. The paper aims to transcend some of the conceptual and methodological limitations of previous research on the subject and to identify the theoretical and practical implications that arise. A ‘mirror’ approach is applied, accessing both partners’ perceptions. These are assessed through a ‘mixed’ method combining quantitative measurement with qualitative interpretations. Psychic distance dimensions are found to vary in their impact on doing business with the other country, and there is also variation according to the firm’s sector. There is considerable asymmetry in British and Indian partners’ perceptions of psychic distance but the degree of difference between their psychic distance evaluations lacks predictive power. Culturally embedded psychic distance dimensions tend to have less impact and to be easier to cope with than institutionally embedded dimensions. Four categories of coping are identified. The principal theoretical implication of this study is that a contingency perspective needs to be adopted in the field of ‘distance’ research, taking account of factors such as a firm’s sector, and that this will require a more complex analytical framework that hitherto.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
JournalManagement International Review
Early online date31 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Psychic distance, Impact of psychic distance, Coping modes, Distance asymmetry, India, SMEs, UK

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