Cultural distance, innovation and export performance: An examination of perceived and objective cultural distance

Goudarz Azar, Rian Drogendijk

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– This paper aims to examine the relationship between cultural distance (both perceived and objective), innovation and firm export performance.

– Hypotheses were tested here by structural equation modeling using data from 186 export ventures into 23 international markets by Swedish companies.

– The results indicate that managers’ perceptions of substantial cultural differences as well as objective cultural differences (gauged using Hofstede’s (1980, 2001) scores for dimensions of national culture) and subsequent environmental uncertainty when expanding into culturally distant markets triggers strategies for interacting and integrating with the market environment. These include producing and adopting innovations to processes and products and to organizational strategy, structure and administrative procedures to cope with the new environment and overcome uncertainties. These innovations and the associated competitive advantages improve firm export performance.

– Despite much research into the relationship between firm internationalization and innovation, little attention has been paid to the effect of the characteristics of the foreign markets (specifically cultural differences) on firm innovation strategies. Moreover, much research has been devoted to the effect of innovation on firm export performance, but such research has mainly focused on one type of innovation, i.e. technological innovation, while the influence of organizational innovation on firm export performance has been basically ignored. The present study validates the explanatory of cultural distance (both perceived and objective) in relation to innovation strategies (technological and organizational) and export performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-207
Number of pages33
JournalEuropean Business Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Uncertainty
  • Innovation
  • Export performance
  • Cultural distance

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