Use, abuse or contribute! A framework for classifying how companies engage with country image
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the use of a positive country image (CI) by companies. First, it examines how organisations embed dimensions of a positive country image into their external marketing communications. Second, it examines the alignment between the countries’ image dimensions and those of the company and how company values and actions could act to either use, abuse and detract from an established CI. Design/methodology/approach – A two-part methodology was adopted. Two countries with strong positive CIs were chosen for comparison purposes. Content analysis of web sites, together with interviews with company representatives, were undertaken. Findings – The use of the CI/country-of-origin framework is extended from an extrinsic “made in” cue for consumers, to being part of the value offering of a particular product or service from an organisational perspective is extended. Evidence is structured into a framework of companies which use and/or contribute to the CI. Research limitations/implications – The two chosen countries both have positive CIs: future research should examine this relationship in countries with different images. The sample size is relatively small and future research should determine the generalisability of the proposed typology. Practical implications – Generating, communicating and maintaining a CI requires co-ordinated efforts from policy makers but needs to be built on solid foundations of reality: companies using CIs should be cognisant of the alignment between their actions, messages and the CI. Originality/value – This study extends prior work by examining the relationship between CI, company strategy, products and services offered and the manner in which companies actions can affect CI.
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