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Markets and Networks in International Trade: On the Role of Distances in Globalization
Management International Review (2012)
  • Lars Häkanson, Copenhagen Business School
  • Douglas Dow

• The enduring importance of geographic distance as an impediment to international trade has recently become recognized as an em¬pirical fact in need of explanation. According to one line of argument – the ‘network view’ – the continuing high sensitivity of international trade to geographical distance is associated with a shift in the composition of trade towards goods requiring more extensive infor¬mation exchange and personal interaction between buyers and sellers. An alternative explanation – ‘the market view’ – contends that improved availability of infor¬ma-tion and increasing transparency of markets have facilitated the matching of geographically more prox¬imate buyers and sellers and the observed decline in average transportation distances is a reflection of increasingly efficient markets.

• This paper examines empirically the relative merits of these two arguments based on a longitudinal analysis of bilateral trade between 25 major trading nations for the period 1962-2008. It compares the development of the relative importance of ‘psychic distance’ – a proxy for infor¬mation related transaction costs – and geographic distance – a proxy for transportation costs – in three catego¬ries of goods.

• The results are broadly in support of the ‘market-view’, showing that the sensitivity of trade to psychic distance has declined dramatically for all categories of goods. The impact of geographic distance has increased markedly for homogenous goods, whereas for more differentiated goods it has decreased mildly.

  • Psychic distance,
  • tradeflows,
  • gravity model
Publication Date
Citation Information
Lars Häkanson and Douglas Dow. "Markets and Networks in International Trade: On the Role of Distances in Globalization" Management International Review Vol. forthcoming (2012)
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