Companies routinely overestimate the attractiveness of foreign markets. Dazzled by the sheer size of untapped markets, they lose sight of the difficulties of pioneering new, often very different territories. The problem is rooted in the analytic tools (the most prominent being country portfolio analysis, or CPA) that managers use to judge international investments. By focusing on national wealth, consumer income, and people's propensity to consume, CPA emphasizes potential sales, ignoring the costs and risks of doing business in a new market. Most of these costs and risks result from the barriers created by distance. "Distance," however, does not refer only to geography; its other dimensions can make foreign markets considerably more or less attractive. The CAGE framework of distance presented here considers four attributes: cultural distance (religious beliefs, race, social norms, and language that are different for the target country and the country of the company considering expansion); administrative or political distance (colony-colonizer links, common currency, and trade arrangements); geographic distance (the physical distance between the two countries, the size of the target country, access to waterways and the ocean, internal topography, and transportation and communications infrastructures); and economic distance (disparities in the two countries' wealth or consumer income and variations in the cost and quality of financial and other resources). This framework can help to identify the ways in which potential markets may be distant from existing ones. The article explores how (and by how much) various types of distance can affect different types of industries and shows how dramatically an explicit consideration of distance can change a company's picture of its strategic options.
To gauge the attractiveness of global-investment opportunities by assessing the impact of geographical distance and differences between two countries' cultures, administrative and political institutions, and economies.
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