This paper presents a review and critique of the 20-year-old literature on institutional distance, which has greatly proliferated. We start with a discussion of the three institutional perspectives that have served as a theoretical foundation for this construct: organizational institutionalism, institutional economics, and comparative institutionalism. We use this as an organizing framework to describe the different ways in which institutional distance has been conceptualized and measured, and to analyze the most common organizational outcomes that have been linked to institutional distance, as well as the proposed explanatory mechanisms of those effects. We substantiate our qualitative review with a meta-analysis, which synthesizes the main findings in this area of research. Building on our review and previous critical work, we note key ambiguities in the institutional distance literature related to underlying theoretical perspectives and associated mechanisms, distance versus profile effects, and measurement. We conclude with actionable recommendations for improving institutional distance research.


Tatiana Kostova, Sjoerd Beugelsdijk, W. Richard Scott, Vincent E. Kunst, Chei Hwee Chua, and Marc van Essen. 2020. The construct of institutional distance through the lens of different institutional perspectives: Review, analysis, and recommendations, Journal of International Business Studies, 51(4), 467-49.