Publication details [#693]

Zaheer, Srilata, Margaret Spring Schomaker and Lilach Nachum. 2012. Distance without direction: Restoring credibility to a much-loved construct. Journal of International Business Studies 43 (1) : 18–27. 10 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
London: Palgrave Macmillan


This is a commentary on Shenkar's (2001) critique of the cultural distance construct. The authors observe that most distance constructs are equally problematic, since they generally result into overly simplified representations of the relationship between countries. Among the major flaws of distance constructs, they mention the confusion between literal and metaphorical meanings of distance; a further problem with conceptualising the relationship between countries in terms of distance is that the lack of distance (both physical and metaphorical) does not necessarily imply similarity. Yet, the authors defend the intrinsic value of the distance concept, and of the idea of a construct and measure of country comparison. Replacing the distance metaphor with the friction metaphor, as suggested by Shenkar in his article on cultural distance, does not remedy the problems inherent in other types of distance constructs. They thus propose several ways to address the weaknesses of the distance concept, refining it and making it a more valuable instrument of international business research.