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Nation branding: how the national image of the United Kingdom affects its outputs

Competition between nations increasingly takes place across all the outputs of a nation, including products, tourism, location for foreign direct investment and many more. A favourable national image for outputs to benefit from is a competitive advantage in the international arena because foreign publics tend to use a nation's image to infer the quality of its outputs. They are more receptive to outputs from certain countries and are willing to pay more for them, such as French perfume, Swiss timepieces, Italian design, et cetera. However, a nation's image is often steeped in stereotypes, which mayor may not be true. Therefore, many nations are undertaking branding exercises to enhance their images. It has been suggested by academics and practitioners that a nation brand can be managed like a corporate brand. While there is a great deal of intuitive appeal to the proposition, there is neither theoretical foundation nor empirical data to support it. This thesis attempts to fill this gap in knowledge by looking at whether there is a basis for nation branding. The possible links between a nation's image, the image of its outputs and how they affect consumer behaviour are examined. This thesis proposes that a nation brand can be conceptualised like a corporate brand because there are similarities between the two. The first similarity is that like a corporation with many products, a nation has many outputs. The second similarity is that both a nation brand and a corporate brand face multiple stakeholders. While a nation has citizens, government, foreign publics that consume its different outputs, a corporation has staff, a management team, consumers of its products and so on. Last, and most importantly, the corporate masterbrand vs. product sub-brand architecture is a suitable structure for conceptualising the relationship between the nation's overall image and the image of its output sub-brands. Since there is little in the literature to guide specific hypotheses, four research propositions were formulated to guide the research. Using the 'theory of reasoned action' (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980; Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975) as a framework, a theoretical model on how the overall image of the UK affects three of its outputs, namely products (for export), tourism and education, was developed and tested. If there are national images that hold true across different outputs and can predict consumers' intention to consume, then they can be used in a nation branding exercise. In order to test the theoretical model, proper measurement scales to measure the constructs are essential. The scale for the overall national image needs to be generic, so that it can straddle across all the outputs of a nation. A Corporate Character Scale by Davies et al. (2004) was adopted for this purpose. Scales for measuring image of the individual outputs were developed specific to the characteristics of the three outputs. Structural equation modelling was used to test the model against data collected from China and India. After re-specification, a parsimonious model, which showed that Chic (prestigious, refined, elegant) and Enterprise (innovative, cool, trendy) were image dimensions that best represented the UK and affected its three outputs of products, tourism and education in the eyes of Chinese and Indian young adults. Analysis and discussions on the findings are furnished, with suggestions for future research.
Date January 2005
CreatorsLoo, Theresa Wai Yue
PublisherUniversity of Manchester
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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