THE NATURE OF COUNTRY I MAGE

- AN EXT ENDED LI T ERATURE RE VI E W


Barbara Jenes
Junior Researcher, Ph.D. Student
Corvinus University of Budapest, Marketing and Media Institute
1093-H, Budapest. FĘvam tér 8.
Tel.:+36 1 482 5254
E-mail: barbara.jenes@uni-corvinus.hu





























ABSTRACT

Analysing .country image¨ is a special area oI interest within the broader Iield oI marketing.
and has been a key area oI discourse. constantly evolving during the 1990`s. It has remained
at the forefront of marketing dialogue and research is as important today as it was then.
According to Kotler et. al. (1993). 'country image is the sum oI belieIs and impressions
people hold about places.¨ In practice. country image can be either spontaneous (individual
pre-conceived ideas) or can be directed and consequently formed (modified somehow by
external factors). There are a lot of examples in everyday life and from previous studies,
which continuously modify and shape internal and external country images. As a result of
these examples, progression of country image theory has been evolving and developing.
The relevance of the topic is verified through the extensive work and research of Kotler,
Papadopolus, Heslop, Martin, Eroglu and more recently by Anholt, who are some of the most
famous researchers in this field. On the other hand, country image is not only analysed by
marketing experts, but by experts in the following fields: international relations/ affairs,
sociology, socio-psychology, theory of cultural differences, societal and historical
development.
The most recent publications on this topic have dealt primarily with new techniques and
approaches to country image, where the country image is classified as a brand equity -
country branding. According to most recent research and literature, a country can be- in a
similar way to classical brands- evaluated and targeted to the market. The evaluation of the
country brand, however, is still unclear and leads to strong debates between researchers from
both academic and non- academic fields.
In this paper, the author carries out a comprehensive literature review and evaluation of the
newest approaches of the field, and attempts to explain key characteristics between theory and
practice of country image and country image building.

Keywords: country image, country branding, nation branding, place branding, literature
review






I. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND
1.1. THE CONCEPT AND INTERPRETATION OF COUNTRY IMAGE

Image as related to countries is less frequently mentioned in literature than more widely-
known image types. According to Martin and Eroglu (1993) country image is the complete set
of descriptive, inferential and informational beliefs about that given country. Kotler et. al.
(1993) suggest that country image is the sum of people`s belieIs. ideas and impressions about
a certain country. Roth and Romeo (1992) argue that country image is the overall perception
of the products Irom a given country based on the previous perception oI the country`s
production and its strengths and weaknesses in marketing. According to Allred et. al. (1999,
p. 36.) country image is 'the perception or impression that organizations and consumers have
about a country. This impression or perception of a country is based on the country's
economic condition, political structure, culture, conflict with other countries, labor conditions,
and stand on environmental issues.¨ As Verlegh and Steenkamp (1999, p. 525) say, country
image is a sum of 'mental representations of a country's people, products, culture and national
symbols¨.

According to traditional image interpretations, country image is analogous to corporate
image, which, again, has two typical approaches: i) there is a so-called spontaneous image,
Iormed in consumers` minds. and ii) another part which can be heavily influenced by
conscious communication (Sandor. 1997). Thus people`s spontaneous evaluation oI any given
country might be shaped and controlled through an established country image concept
accompanied by well-designed, targeted communication efforts.

The identity prism` of the country (like the concept of corporate identity) consists of physical
(geography, natural sources, demography), cultural (history, culture), personal (name, flag,
celebrities), relational (with governments, international organizations) and controlled
(conscious formation of country image) elements, says Graby (1993).
Van Ham (2002), however, put forward the idea that the corporations of the country in
question are 'representatives¨ oI the country`s image/brand through their own corporate
brands. Even though the power of commercial brands to convey country image is rather
obvious, very few studies deal with this matter. Moreover, Dowling (1994) was the first
author to recognize the reciprocal relationship between corporate images and country image.
The relationship of four relevant elements (country image, industry image, corporate image
and brand image) was examined. which model was termed the network oI images`. Each
element of the model is in interaction with all the other elements. In an international research
project, Papadopoulos, Heslop and Berács (1990) also evinced that country image does indeed
have an influence on the image of individual corporations and products.

Country image might be considered a special type of image which covers the country's
products, brands, companies and much more. Country image is formed on the basis of
experience and opinions about the nation or country and on, primarily, information received
through the various channels. Possible channels are politics (internal affairs and foreign
policy), telecommunication, entertainment (movies) and rumor. Country image comprises
many elements: national symbols, colours, clothing, typical buildings, objects, tunes, pieces
of literature, specialties of the political system, customs, historical heritage and many more
(Jenes, 2005).
Papadopoulos and Heslop (2002) suggested that country images might also be influenced by
some other factors, like culture, media, sport, economy and the political and social
environment.

The concept of country image has two common interpretations, leading to heavy debates
amongst professionals. The first approach ascribes a so-called umbrella function` to country
image, as its elements are made up of the totality of the country's specific products, brands
and various organizations. According to the second approach, the country itself is a complex
product, made up of a large number of elements. (Thus country image is considered a normal
product image, yet with more diverse, complex and complicated characteristics.)
With regards to its direction, the country image can be internal image (self image) and
external image (mirror image), similarly to the classification of product image. This kind of
interpretation is hardly acceptable bearing on product. Talking of that, the internal country
image means `what citizens think about their own country`. and the external country image is
`what others/Ioreigners think about our country`. (Jenes, 2007, p. 40.)

Country image, just like any other image, is not one-dimensional. Researchers have
investigated several, often overlapping dimensions, although far less attention was given to
measuring attitudes towards countries and their inhabitants than towards country of origin
image.
Wang and Lamb (1983) argue, that the dimensions of a country image are the followings:
foreign environmental influence, political environment, cultural environment, economic
environment. Papadopoulos et. al. (1990) found the following dimensions: industrial
development, affect, industrial orientation, closer ties. According to Weber and Grundhöfer
(1991) the country image dimensions are the politics, appearance, culture, people and
economy. Verlegh (2001) argues, that natural landscape, climate, competence, creativity,
positive and negative Ieelings are the dimensions oI a country`s image.
According to Jenes. Malota and Simon`s (2008) recent research study. the dimensions are the
followings: tourism, economic/political situation, public safety, culture, people.

Accordig to Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) consumers beliefs about products and countries may
be descriptive, informative or inductive, and these beliefs are formed in different ways.
Descriptive beliefs are established through experience while informative beliefs are shaped by
information from external sources (e.g. media, friends). Inductive beliefs originate from the
perception of a relationship between some past event and a stimulus in the present. The
impact of these direct and indirect experiences, are important factors considering country
image as well.

According to Roth and Diamantopoulos (2009) the definitions of country image differ in their
focal image object, that means country image can be i) general image of countries (i.e.
country image); ii) image of countries and their products (i.e. product-country image); iii)
images of products from a country (i.e. product image). The inconsistency in the definitional
domains of the country image construct results confusion its conceptual specification.

A number of authors (e.g. Laroche et.al., 2005; Papadopoulos et.el., 1990; Parameswaran and
Pisharodi, 1994; in: Roth Diamantopoulos, 2009) suggest that country image should
comprise (1) a cognitive component. which includes consumers` belieIs about a certain
country. (2) an aIIective component. that describes the country`s emotional value to the
consumer. and (3) a conative component. capturing consumers` behavioral intentions with
regard to the sourcing country. This kind of conceptualization of the country image construct
Iollows the original conceptualization oI attitudes (namely the 'three-component¨-view of
attitudes).
As an example, Berács and Malota`s (2000) results are based on a Hungarian database. the
country image dimensions are: cognitive evaluation, affective evaluation, knowledge about
the country (experience), country links (ties).

II. CONCEPTS RELATED TO COUNTRY IMAGE
2.1. COUNTRY OF ORIGIN IMAGE

Interpreting diIIerent authors` deIinitions. we may recognize that some concepts tend to be
mixed up. Basically, we have to differentiate three main concepts: product image (PI),
country image (CI) and country of origin image (COO or COOI). These three types of image
are closely related (especially from our marketing perspective) and somewhat overlapping,
influencing each other both directly and indirectly.
The confusion about the concepts partly results from several authors considering country of
origin image to be the same as country image. For example, Balabanis et al. (1996, p. 1398.)
define country of origin as a marketing concept that captures consumer`s diIIerentiated
attitudes towards diIIerent nations`.
In contrast to that, we consider country oI origin image to be that part oI a product`s overall
image which is based on where the product comes from. Thus country of origin image is the
result of stereotypes linked to a certain product merely because it originates from a given
country. Accordingly, in this context country of origin image relates to the product (service),
that is: the country of origin image of a certain product.
The concept of country of origin image gained the attention of marketing experts in the early
1960s. Dichter (1962) argues that the successful marketing manager of the future has to pay
attention to the basic differences and similarities among consumers in different parts of the
world. According to the recent literature, the origin of a product acts as a sign of product
quality (e.g. Han, 1989) and a country of origin image can explain why consumers prefer
products or brands from one country in comparison to another.
In Nagashima`s wording. country oI origin image is the picture, the reputation, the stereotype
that businessmen and consumers attach to the products of a specific country. This image is
created by such variables as representative products, national characteristics, economic and
political background, history and traditions` (Nagashima, 1970, p.68.). The above partly
corresponds to our view as most of the factors mentioned affect the image of the country and
thus, indirectly, the image of the product. Accordingly, the process can be interpreted as an
image transfer. People have their attitudes towards countries and when judging the products
of a given country, their origin will largely affect the result of the evaluation. That is country
image influences the country of origin image of the product, which is practically integrated
into its overall image (e.g. Germans are precise. thereIore German products` image resulting
from their origin is that they are manufactured very carefully, which is then incorporated into
the general image of a given product).
Of course, image-transfer also acts in the opposite direction, e.g. for Japan: though we do not
know anyone from Japan, the positive evaluation of Japanese products may lead to the
positive judgment of Japanese people (Baughn and Yaprak, 1993).

2.2. BUILDING COUNTRY IMAGE - PLACE MARKETING

Along with the concept of country image, the need for another concept, namely place
marketing, arises. Even though English literature uniformly uses the term `place marketing`.
the theoretical approach prevailing in certain countries does differentiate between some
further interpretations (in spite of the English definition clearly referring to place marketing):
country marketing, regional marketing, town/city marketing and the marketing activities of
villages. Primarily, the basis for distinguishing between these concepts is the size of the
geographical entity the place marketing activities of which are being considered. Different
sizes, clearly, mean differing endowments, target markets, strategies and differing
implementation tools, as well (Jenes, 2009).

According to Kotler-Haider-Rein (1993), place marketing includes four activities:

1. designing the right mix of communal and municipal features and services;
2. developing incentives appealing to the users, to the potential and actual consumers
of their products and services;
3. transmitting, transferring the products and services of the place to the consumers
in the most efficient way;
4. promoting the values and the image of the place in order for potential consumers
to be fully informed about the distinguishing competitive advantages of the place.

The specialities of place marketing clearly lead to the conclusion that its range of target
groups includes any `stakeholder` who has any kind oI relationship to the place or township in
question.

Literature generally lists five consumer segments (based on Kotler, 1993; Papadopoulos,
1993; Papp-Váry, 2007):
1. residents,
2. local entrepreneurs,
3. investors,
4. tourists, visitors,
5. offices, parties, national and international professional and civil organizations.

Using consumer segments as target groups necessitates group-specific tools and diversified
marketing activities. Which also implies, that the message that can be conveyed is different
for each and every group.

According to literature, there are some concepts in this field as well that tend to be mixed up.
As an example Ashworth and Voogd (1990) argue that `the marketing of places involves
coming to terms with the character and the intrinsic qualities of place products. Places are a
distinctive type of product, tourism place-products are a distinctive type of place-product,
therefore, tourism place marketing is a distinctive form of marketing, embracing theories
about the intrinsic characteristics of multifunctionality and existence within spatial hierarchies
as well as containing an enormous variety of elements which means that almost any place
facility can conceivably be part of some tourism product.

2.3. PLACE BRANDING

In place branding related approaches, the expression `place` actually refers to the physical and
geopolitical location of a nation or state; a region or a state; a location with cultural or
historical links; a city with a large population; a market of various given attributes; the centre,
the cluster and the suppliers of an industry and the psychological characteristics of
interpersonal relationships (Kotler - Hamlin - Rein - Haider, 2002).
Place branding as a concept was first employed by Kotler et. al. (1993), referring to
something the stakeholders of which are cities, countries or tourist destinations and which, as
a concept, also incorporates the competition for tourists, visitors and investors.
Place branding activities may also be interpreted as a complex strategic and tactical merger
with cooperation from shareholder groups and the managements of communication channels,
capable oI stimulating prospective customers` willingness and intention to purchase (Allen,
2007). Avraham - Kettner (2008) proposed that the strategic approach to place branding is
connected to public relations, asserting that altering an image is a continuous, comprehensive,
holistic and interactive process which requires far more than a quick and simple change of
slogans or logos.
According to Papadopoulos and Heslop (2002), place branding (also known as destination
branding or place promotion) is a relatively new, so-called umbrella-type of approach to
country branding, regional branding and city branding.
Place branding, as seen by Anholt, is not only a kind of necessity but also a phenomenon,
which has been constantly gaining ground as a result of globalization. During the process of
place branding, the evaluation of the various ideas, cultures, products and services makes
them altogether part of a simple, global community (Anholt, 2005).
In Kotler`s opinion. the Iact that nowadays people can live and work wherever they want to
offers favorable opportunities to some townships, yet it might have fatal consequences for
some others (Kotler, 2004).
Anholt (2007), nonetheless, seriously disputes the conceptual definition of place branding.
The topic of place branding, he argues, basically deals with political backgrounds and
international relations rather than marketing relationships. As he does not consider place
branding to be a communication process, but rather a process during which political changes
occur. in his view. brand` is an incorrect expression. Consequently. Anholt (2007) preIers
using the concept of competitive identity instead (see below).

2.4. COUNTRY BRANDING, NATION BRANDING

The expression country marketing has already been present in literature for a couple of years.
On the contrary. the `country as a brand` approach and `country branding` is only mentioned
in a couple of works, some of them being rather confusing. Branding, however, is a much
wider concept. There is a so-called spontaneous image to each country, which can be turned
into a consciously shaped image to be positioned and valued in the marketplace. Anholt
(1999) has pointed out that just like corporations, countries depend on their good name,
reputation. or `brand image`. and their marketing communications can change the image oI a
place. Places acquire their images very slowly, as a result of the things their governments,
businesses and people do, the things they make, and the way they do those things. This latter
process is called country image building, country branding, nation branding or country
rebranding. According to Anholt (2002) country branding is a synonym for nation branding.
Nation branding is a better term because it shows a clear understanding that it`s the people
who brand their country, who benefit from an improved national reputation, and who truly
own` that national brand. According to Fan (2006) nation branding concerns applying
branding and marketing communications techniques to promote a nation`s image¨. Nation
branding/country branding does not only stand for creating a new logo, slogan or brand name
but rather for a comprehensive process including positioning and various communication
methods. (Anholt, 2005) The objectives of country branding are primarily of economic
nature. `Selling` the country basically covers three aspects: Iostering tourism. attracting
tourists, fostering foreign investments and improving exports.
According to de Vincente (2004, in: Jaffe Nebenzahl. 2006. p. 139.) nation branding uses
marketing strategies to promote a country`s image. products and attractiveness Ior tourism
and foreign direct investment.¨ In Han`s wording (2001. in: JaIIe Nebenzahl, 2006, p. 139.)
nations need branding because image and reputation are becoming essential parts oI oI their
strategic equity.¨

Figure 1
The Nation Brand Hexagon







Source: Anholt, 2002


A classic brand and a country brand have a lot in common, but there are important
differences, too. Thus a country brand needs special management. Just like normal product
brands, it does have a name, a logo and some further identifiers. Its name, however, has a
special origin, and owners are hard to identify, as well. Selling a country brand is not possible,
either. (Papp-Váry, 2004) Thus valuation becomes questionable, which provides the basis for
debates between researchers concerning the scientific background and the validity of country
branding theories.

Table 1:
The Comparison of a Classical Brand and a Country Brand
Classical brand A country as a brand
Clear property relations
There is no one real owner, everybody who
lives there is a holder
The management is the owner`s competence
The management` is chosen by the citizens
(in democracies)
Goal: profit for the owner Goal: the citizenry`s welIare
From above leaded, top down control
From beneath, by community values,
bottom-up (in democracies
The brand image consists of a few elements
The brand image consists of a vast number of
elements
Consistent marketing communications
through a few channels
Mostly uncoordinated communications
through a large number of channels
The brand name is made-up, it can be
changed
The brand name is a geographical area, it
cannot be changed
The brand is temporal The brand wants to live forever
Source: Papp-Váry, 2004, p.7.


Kotler and Gertner (2002) concluded that recently, more and more nations have realised the
significance of a positive and consciously controlled country image: all but a few countries in
the world manage themselves as a brand. According to Papadopoulos (2004), they do so in
order to distinguish themselves from other nations, to increase tourism revenues and to
improve investment and export figures.
Country branding is, in the view of Godjunsson (2005, pp. 283-298), when a government or
a private corporation use their power to convince people that any one of them might change
the image of a whole nation.¨ Country branding employs the tools used in branding with the
aim oI positively inIluencing or altering a country`s identity. image or people`s attitude
towards that country.
Country branding involves various fields and tools in order to create a strong brand as a result
of the arising synergies. Such fields are sightseeing attractions, events, infrastructure, price,
quality, security, beauty and the fostering of tourism using incentives both in business and in
education. Tourism is an element of country branding in all parts of the world

2.5. PUBLIC DIPLOMACY

According to the literature, public diplomacy means government communication aimed at
Ioreign audiences to achieve changes in the hearts oI minds` oI the people. (Szondi. 2008) In
Malone`s wording (1985. p. 199.) public diplomacy is direct communication with Ioreign
people . with the aim oI aIIecting their thinking and ultimately. that oI their governments.`
With regards to the above mentioned approaches, there are several factors that allowed
branding and marketing approaches to penetrate the sphere of international relations and
public diplomacy. Van Ham`s (2002. In: Szondi. 2008) seminal work on the rise oI the brand
state` has become an oIten-cited justification for adopting branding approaches in foreign
policy ad public diplomacy. According to him the modern world of geopolitics and power is
being replaced by the postmodern world of images and influences. He argued that traditional
diplomacy is disappearing and identity politics is becoming the main activity of states.

Szondi (2008. p. 20.) has pointed out that Iive diIIerent views can be identiIied as the
relationship between nation branding and public diplomacy`. According to the IiIth approach.
the concepts are exactly the same, public diplomacy and nation branding are synonyms for
the same concept.` In this view both nation branding and public diplomacy cover the same
activity: country promotion with the ultimate goal oI creating positive images. Equating
public diplomacy and nation branding, however, is the least beneficial model of all because it
would ignore important diIIerences and neither concept could be utilised to its Iull potential.`-
as Szondi (2008, p. 35) says.






III. EXTENDED CONCEPTS OF THE FIELD - RECENT PUBLICATIONS ON
COUNTRY IMAGE AND COUNTRY BRANDING
3.1. COMPETITIVE IDENTITY

According to Anholt (2007), most countries use six natural channels to communicate with the
rest of the world. (The natural channel approach ignores what is considered the channels of
classical media, like television, radio, print press and internet. This approach has its roots in
the assumption that a carefully chosen logo, website or piece of graphic design alone is
incapable oI substantially altering a country`s image in people`s minds; this can only be
achieved by the people and the organizations of the country changing their own behavior or
maybe even their beliefs.) He argues, however, that this type of communication shall not be
called branding, thus he suggests to use competitive identity instead. Competitive identity,
accordingly, uses six communication channels, according to Anholt:

1. Tourism promotion: often the loudest voice in branding a nation
2. Export brands: as ambassadors oI the country`s image
3. Policy decisions oI the country`s government: foreign or domestic policy
4. The way the country solicits inward investments: for business audience
5. Cultural exchange, cultural activities and exports: cultural products can build the
reputation of a nation
6. The people of the country themselves: their behavior abroad and at home

The main point of competitive identity actually is that the state generates an appropriate,
clear, credible and positive idea about itself by coordinating the six communication channels
adequately; thus they provide information about what the country is like, where it is heading
to and how it is proceeding. This is a perfect opportunity for countries to build up or
reposition their competitive national identity both internally and externally in order to
achieve long term profits related to exports, imports, the government, the cultural sector,
tourism, migration and international relations.

In Anholt`s (2007, pp. 26-27.) wording, the basic theory behind Competitive Identity is that
when governments have a good, clear, believable and positive idea of what their country
really is. what it stands Ior and where it`s going. and manage to coordinate the actions,
investments, policies and communications of all six points of the hexagon so that they prove
and reinforce this idea, then they stand a good chance of building and maintaining a
competitive national identity both internally and externally to the lasting benefit of
exporters, importers, government, the culture sector, tourism, immigration, and pretty much
every aspect of international relations.
Building Competitive Identity needs clearly stated and properly agreed goals. It is quite
possible to set a mixture of precise, shorter-term goals (such as a certain increase in foreign
direct investment or the hosting of a prestigious international event) and longer-term changes
in national image, which might be decades away. Countries with a Competitive Identity
should find (Anholt, 2007, pp. 28-29.):

clearer domestic agreement on national identity and societal goals
a climate where innovation is prized and practiced
more effective bidding for international events
more effective investment promotion
more effective tourism and business travel promotion
a healthier 'country oI origin eIIect¨ Ior exporters oI goods and services
greater profile in the international media
simpler accession into regional and global bodies and associations
more productive cultural relations with other countries and regions.

The Competitive Identity has three properties: 1. it attracts (consumers, tourists, talent,
investors, respect, attention); 2. it transfers magnetism to other objects; and 3. it has the power
to create order out of chaos .
Figure 2
The Virtuous Circle of Competitive Identity










Source: Anholt, 2007
3.2. PLACE BRAND EXPERIENCE

In practice the first step of place branding, according to Allen (2007), is the forming of
people`s pre-place experience, which is what visitors encounter when they arrive, followed by
their current experiences (place experience) and by the memories they keep about the place
(post-place-experience). Each step leads to another circular process, which is often called a
dynamic circular process. According to this interpretation, physical experience constitutes
what we call place experience. Expectations towards any township appear in two components:
in memories, in the past experience (through one`s memories and loyalty) and in
communication (through word-of-mouth and the communication efforts of the brand itself).
Leisen (2001) suggested that tourists` choice between the various destinations depends on the
Iavorable image oI the townships in question. Image acts as a transmitter oI tourists`
expectations to the destination. thus the images in the individuals` minds might lead to
marketing success.
Figure 3
The Place Brand Experience



















Source: Allen, 2007

3.3. PLACE BRAND IDENTITY MODEL

According to Eitel and Speiekerman`s (2007. p. 1.) approach. Place Branding does not
merely stick on new labels, but consolidates the essential characteristics of the individual
identity into a brand core.` In their new Place Brand Identity Model the Place Branding
process begins with in an "AS IS" state, with the realized and the verbalized self-perception.
The branding process aims at self-perception on an active level; closing the gap between the
verbalized self-perception and actually realized self perception. In addition, the cultural
melding of the self and external perception with the verbalized self-concept makes an early
check on the communication gap necessary. In Eitel and Spiekerman`s (2007. p. 2.) view the
development of a Brand Core always starts in the existing culture and in the existing self-
perception, reality, self-concept and outside perception. The Brand Personality works from
the inside outwards on the basis of several key issues: Who are we, what do we want to be,
how do we become what we want to be, what do others believe we are and how would we like
to be seen. The brand must be strategically managed in order to reach an aligned target image.
The target image follows the question of how we would like to be noticed in the future from
the outside and is functionally linked to the verbalized self-concept. Only once the self-
concept and target image are in accordance can the identification gap be closed. The
perception gap develops between an image and a target image. Each Place Branding process
must be accompanied by thorough observation regarding the structure of the perceived
image.¨


IV. CONCLUSIONS
COUNTRY IMAGE AND RELATING THEORIES: CONCEPTUAL SIMILARITIES AND
DIFFERENCES

The aim of this study was to explore potential relationships between country image and its
relating concepts, which are increasingly being used in the same context. After examining the
origins of these concepts, a review of definitions and conceptualizations has provided a point
of departure for exploring the relationship between the mentioned areas.

According to the literature, the following main and general characteristics can be found
among the country image definitions:
1. Country image is what people think about a certain country. This 'thinking¨ - according
to the definitional domains of country image in the literature - can be: i) impressions; ii)
ideas, iii) stereotypes; iv) schemas; v) associations; vi) perceptions; vii) attitudes; viii)
beliefs.
2. Country image - with regards to its direction - can be both internal and external image.
3. The image of a country can be either spontaneous or can be directed and consequently
formed.
4. Country image is a multidimensional concept. Its general dimensions - in most of the
cases - are the followings: i) economic environment; ii) cultural environment; iii) political
environment; iv) geographical environment/natural endowments; v) technological
development; vi) people; vii) tourism; viii) emotions/feelings.
5. According to the literature, regarding to the conceptual terms of country image, three
main approaches are known in this field. Among country image definitions there are:
- general country image definitions
- product-country image definitions
- country related product image (country-of-origin) definitions.
6. With regards to the most recent publications, country image can be classified as a brand
equity - revealing a new theory: country branding. In this meaning, the image of a country
and a country itself can be evaluated and targeted to the market.
7. There are a couple oI diIIerent methods Ior shaping/building a country`s reputation.
According to the literature it can be clearly declared the main approach these processes
differ by which - country branding, nation branding, place branding - is the size of the
geographical entity the marketing activities of which are being considered.

The similarities and differences of the theories of country image building are the
followings:




Table 2
Similarities and Differences of the Theories of Country Image Building

SIMILARITIES DIFFERENCES
GOALS in most of the cases the main aim is to
promote a country and its economic,
political interest and to improve the
country`s reputation
public diplomacy is more politicized,
nation/country/place branding has more
economical interest

TOOLS mostly driven by marketing, often using
management tools (logo, slogan, etc.
creating)
in nation branding often used tourism
promotion; competitive identity mostly
has the branding nature, in public
diplomacy often used cultural events and
political tools
STAKEHOLDERS
AND TARGET
GROUPS
publics, mass/consumers, citizens, in
some cases investors
in public diplomacy the most political
stakeholders and foreign publics
DIRECTION can be both internal and external competitive identity is most likely
external; public diplomacy is only
external; place brand identity has most
likely internal direction
TIME-FRAME mostly on-going, continuous actions country/nation branding has mostly ad
hoc, campaign driven actions
EVALUATION rather short and middle term competitive identity and results of
branding methods are evaluated rather
long term
Source: edited by the author

V. SUMMARY AND FUTURE SCENARIOS

The topic of country image is a rather diverse one, with some sub-topics partially overlapping
and complementing each other. Moreover, some methods seen in practice might not even be
mentioned in theoretical papers and vice versa, practical work often lacks a solid theoretical
background. Rapid development is still unquestionably evinced by the large number of related
research projects and models, and coming years are also expected to witness an increased
level of scientific interest in the topic. This is also supported by the Iact that in today`s
globalized world, more and more nations are trying to apply country branding strategies and
various other tools for consciously shaping their image.
Present study strived to review recent years` relevant pieces of literature and to present the
newest lines of research in the field. As some sub-topics require further scientific
investigation, whereas others are just becoming outdated, it is very hard to forecast which
Iields might dominate coming years` scientific efforts and which might disappear or become
merged with some other field. A kind of re-organization and re-shaping of some sub-topics
and their relationships with each other is almost certain to take place, as is the appearance of
some new theoretical approaches further broadening the interpretational framework of the
topic.













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ABSTRACT country image at the forefront of marketing dialogue and research is as important today as it was then. According to Kotler et. al. pre-conceived ideas) or can be directed and consequently formed (modified somehow by external factors). There are a lot of examples in everyday life and from previous studies, which continuously modify and shape internal and external country images. As a result of these examples, progression of country image theory has been evolving and developing. The relevance of the topic is verified through the extensive work and research of Kotler, Papadopolus, Heslop, Martin, Eroglu and more recently by Anholt, who are some of the most famous researchers in this field. On the other hand, country image is not only analysed by marketing experts, but by experts in the following fields: international relations/ affairs, sociology, socio-psychology, theory of cultural differences, societal and historical development. The most recent publications on this topic have dealt primarily with new techniques and approaches to country image, where the country image is classified as a brand equity country branding. According to most recent research and literature, a country can be- in a similar way to classical brands- evaluated and targeted to the market. The evaluation of the country brand, however, is still unclear and leads to strong debates between researchers from both academic and non- academic fields. In this paper, the author carries out a comprehensive literature review and evaluation of the newest approaches of the field, and attempts to explain key characteristics between theory and practice of country image and country image building. K eywords: country image, country branding, nation branding, place branding, literature review

1. al. . conflict with other countries. relational (with governments. demography). targeted communication efforts. again. which. Kotler et. Moreover. identity prism of the country (like the concept of corporate identity) consists of physical (geography. ich can be heavily influenced by country might be shaped and controlled through an established country image concept accompanied by well-designed. political structure. THE CONCEPT AND INTERPRETATION OF COUNTRY IMAGE Image as related to countries is less frequently mentioned in literature than more widelyknown image types. has two typical approaches: i) there is a so-called spontaneous image. p. flag. 36. According to Allred et. international organizations) and controlled (conscious formation of country image) elements. country image is analogous to corporate image. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND 1. labor conditions. however. natural sources. cultural (history. Dowling (1994) was the first author to recognize the reciprocal relationship between corporate images and country image.) country image is the perception or impression that organizations and consumers have about a country. (1999. says Graby (1993). very few studies deal with this matter. p. According to Martin and Eroglu (1993) country image is the complete set of descriptive. put forward the idea that the corporations of the country in ugh their own corporate brands. al. 525) say.I. culture). Roth and Romeo (1992) argue that country image is the overall perception According to traditional image interpretations. Van Ham (2002). celebrities). Even though the power of commercial brands to convey country image is rather obvious. inferential and informational beliefs about that given country. This impression or perception of a country is based on the country's economic condition. As Verlegh and Steenkamp (1999. country image is a sum of mental representations of a country's people. culture and national impressions about a certain country. (1993) suggest that country image is the sum of of the products production and its strengths and weaknesses in marketing. products. personal (name. culture.

2005). Talking of that. companies and much more. According to the second approach. Papadopoulos. (Thus country image is considered a normal product image. typical buildings. the country image can be internal image (self image) and external image (mirror image). yet with more diverse. brands and various organizations.The relationship of four relevant elements (country image. just like any other image. information received through the various channels. telecommunication. Country image comprises many elements: national symbols. . Country image might be considered a special type of image which covers the country's products. Heslop and Berács (1990) also evinced that country image does indeed have an influence on the image of individual corporations and products. often overlapping dimensions. The concept of country image has two common interpretations. primarily. p. corporate image element of the model is in interaction with all the other elements. brands. although far less attention was given to measuring attitudes towards countries and their inhabitants than towards country of origin image. pieces of literature. colours. customs. Country image is formed on the basis of experience and opinions about the nation or country and on. made up of a large number of elements. the country itself is a complex product. 40. This kind of interpretation is hardly acceptable bearing on product. complex and complicated characteristics.) With regards to its direction. historical heritage and many more (Jenes. The first approach ascribes a soumbrella function to country image.) Country image. industry image. Researchers have investigated several. economy and the political and social environment. similarly to the classification of product image. Possible channels are politics (internal affairs and foreign policy). specialties of the political system. Papadopoulos and Heslop (2002) suggested that country images might also be influenced by some other factors. entertainment (movies) and rumor. like culture. clothing. as its elements are made up of the totality of the country's specific products. the internal country . media. tunes. 2007. In an international research project. is not one-dimensional. objects. sport. leading to heavy debates amongst professionals.

economic environment.el. public safety. A number of authors (e. -view of . that natural landscape. The impact of these direct and indirect experiences. Papadopoulos et.. people and economy.e. 1994.g. al. country image). culture. Accordig to Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) consumers beliefs about products and countries may be descriptive. (1990) found the following dimensions: industrial development. are important factors considering country image as well. climate. cultural environment. media. Papadopoulos et. and these beliefs are formed in different ways. industrial orientation. creativity. According to Weber and Grundhöfer (1991) the country image dimensions are the politics. Verlegh (2001) argues. Parameswaran and Pisharodi. ii) image of countries and their products (i. closer ties. This kind of conceptualization of the country image construct attitudes). Laroche et.e. informative or inductive. in: Roth Diamantopoulos. culture. product image).al. competence. According to Roth and Diamantopoulos (2009) the definitions of country image differ in their focal image object. product-country image). economic/political situation. political environment. appearance. iii) images of products from a country (i. people. 1990.. affect. Inductive beliefs originate from the perception of a relationship between some past event and a stimulus in the present. 2005. that means country image can be i) general image of countries (i. The inconsistency in the definitional domains of the country image construct results confusion its conceptual specification.g. Descriptive beliefs are established through experience while informative beliefs are shaped by information from external sources (e.e. 2009) suggest that country image should n regard to the sourcing country. friends). followings: tourism. that the dimensions of a country image are the followings: foreign environmental influence.Wang and Lamb (1983) argue.

The confusion about the concepts partly results from several authors considering country of origin image to be the same as country image. According to the recent literature. economic and political background. This image is created by such variables as representative products. knowledge about the country (experience). Dichter (1962) argues that the successful marketing manager of the future has to pay attention to the basic differences and similarities among consumers in different parts of the world. p. Thus country of origin image is the result of stereotypes linked to a certain product merely because it originates from a given country. influencing each other both directly and indirectly. the stereotype that businessmen and consumers attach to the products of a specific country. CONCEPTS RELATED TO COUNTRY IMAGE 2. Berács and country image dimensions are: cognitive evaluation.68. The above partly corresponds to our view as most of the factors mentioned affect the image of the country and thus. These three types of image are closely related (especially from our marketing perspective) and somewhat overlapping. the process can be interpreted as an image transfer.1. the picture. Basically. in this context country of origin image relates to the product (service). history and traditions (Nagashima. we consider image which is based on where the product comes from. COUNTRY OF ORIGIN IMAGE mixed up. 1970. the image of the product. indirectly. .).As an example. national characteristics.) define country of orig atti In contrast to that. country links (ties). affective evaluation. Accordingly. People have their attitudes towards countries and when judging the products . the origin of a product acts as a sign of product quality (e. Balabanis et al. country image (CI) and country of origin image (COO or COOI). (1996. we have to differentiate three main concepts: product image (PI). that is: the country of origin image of a certain product. Accordingly. Han. II. p. The concept of country of origin image gained the attention of marketing experts in the early 1960s. 1989) and a country of origin image can explain why consumers prefer products or brands from one country in comparison to another. the reputation.g. For example. 1398.

Primarily. Different sizes. their origin will largely affect the result of the evaluation. . transferring the products and services of the place to the consumers in the most efficient way. promoting the values and the image of the place in order for potential consumers to be fully informed about the distinguishing competitive advantages of the place. for Japan: though we do not know anyone from Japan.PLACE MARKETING Along with the concept of country image. regional marketing. e. That is country image influences the country of origin image of the product. developing incentives appealing to the users. 2. as well (Jenes. town/city marketing and the marketing activities of villages. 2009). place marketing includes four activities: 1. designing the right mix of communal and municipal features and services. strategies and differing implementation tools. clearly. Even though English literature uniformly the theoretical approach prevailing in certain countries does differentiate between some further interpretations (in spite of the English definition clearly referring to place marketing): country marketing. mean differing endowments. 1993). transmitting. target markets. the basis for distinguishing between these concepts is the size of the geographical entity the place marketing activities of which are being considered. which is practically integrated from their origin is that they are manufactured very carefully. the need for another concept. BUILDING COUNTRY IMAGE . namely place marketing. 2. 4.2. The specialities of place marketing clearly lead to the conclusion that its range of target groups inclu question. According to Kotler-Haider-Rein (1993). 3.g. image-transfer also acts in the opposite direction. to the potential and actual consumers of their products and services. which is then incorporated into the general image of a given product).of a given country. arises. Of course. the positive evaluation of Japanese products may lead to the positive judgment of Japanese people (Baughn and Yaprak.

1993.Haider. that the message that can be conveyed is different for each and every group. tourism place-products are a distinctive type of place-product. . there are some concepts in this field as well that tend to be mixed up. investors. local entrepreneurs. a city with a large population. a market of various given attributes. Papadopoulos. the cluster and the suppliers of an industry and the psychological characteristics of interpersonal relationships (Kotler . referring to something the stakeholders of which are cities. the centre. therefore. Place branding activities may also be interpreted as a complex strategic and tactical merger with cooperation from shareholder groups and the managements of communication channels.Rein . parties.3. (1993). Place branding as a concept was first employed by Kotler et. he marketing of places involves coming to terms with the character and the intrinsic qualities of place products. tourism place marketing is a distinctive form of marketing. as a concept.Literature generally lists five consumer segments (based on Kotler. the expression actually refers to the physical and geopolitical location of a nation or state. 5. residents. 1993. national and international professional and civil organizations. Places are a distinctive type of product. also incorporates the competition for tourists. embracing theories about the intrinsic characteristics of multifunctionality and existence within spatial hierarchies as well as containing an enormous variety of elements which means that almost any place facility can conceivably be part of some tourism product. 2. countries or tourist destinations and which. tourists. 2. Using consumer segments as target groups necessitates group-specific tools and diversified marketing activities. a region or a state. visitors.Hamlin . 2002). PLACE BRANDING In place branding related approaches. Which also implies. 2007): 1. al. visitors and investors. a location with cultural or historical links. Papp-Váry. offices. 3. 4. According to literature.

so-called umbrella-type of approach to country branding. As he does not consider place branding to be a communication process. the evaluation of the various ideas. place branding (also known as destination branding or place promotion) is a relatively new. COUNTRY BRANDING. as seen by Anholt. NATION BRANDING The expression country marketing has already been present in literature for a couple of years. Anholt (1999) has pointed out that just like corporations. country branding. This latter process is called country image building. which can be turned into a consciously shaped image to be positioned and valued in the marketplace. asserting that altering an image is a continuous. According to Papadopoulos and Heslop (2002). and the way they do those things. The topic of place branding.intention to purchase (Allen. comprehensive. he argues. During the process of place branding. Anholt (2007). which has been constantly gaining ground as a result of globalization. the things they make.4. Places acquire their images very slowly. Place branding. products and services makes them altogether part of a simple.Kettner (2008) proposed that the strategic approach to place branding is connected to public relations. holistic and interactive process which requires far more than a quick and simple change of slogans or logos. businesses and people do. yet it might have fatal consequences for some others (Kotler. cultures. 2004). seriously disputes the conceptual definition of place branding. offers favorable opportunities to some townships. as a result of the things their governments. basically deals with political backgrounds and international relations rather than marketing relationships. Avraham . but rather a process during which political changes using the concept of competitive identity instead (see below). There is a so-called spontaneous image to each country. is not only a kind of necessity but also a phenomenon. is a much wider concept. 2005). regional branding and city branding. Branding. countries depend on their good name. 2. nation branding or country . global community (Anholt. 2007). place. in a couple of works. nonetheless. some of them being rather confusing. however.

Selling a country brand is not possible. Its name. however. a logo and some further identifiers. who brand their country. (Anholt. fostering foreign investments and improving exports. 2004) Thus valuation becomes questionable. which provides the basis for . it does have a name. Just like normal product brands. slogan or brand name but rather for a comprehensive process including positioning and various communication methods.rebranding. 2005) The objectives of country branding are primarily of economic tourists. and owners are hard to identify. 2002 A classic brand and a country brand have a lot in common. has a special origin. 139. but there are important differences. who benefit from an improved national reputation.) Figure 1 The Nation Brand Hexagon Source: Anholt. too. in: Jaffe and foreign direct invest Nebenzahl. as well. and who truly Accord branding/country branding does not only stand for creating a new logo. 2006. either. According to de Vincente (2004. (Papp-Váry. p. According to Anholt (2002) country branding is a synonym for nation branding. Thus a country brand needs special management.

Table 1: The Comparison of a Classical Brand and a Country Brand C lassical brand Clear property relations The manageme Goal: profit for the owner From above leaded. 2004. top down control The brand image consists of a few elements Consistent marketing communications through a few channels The brand name is made-up. it can be changed The brand is temporal A country as a brand There is no one real owner.7. Kotler and Gertner (2002) concluded that recently. it cannot be changed The brand wants to live forever Source: Papp-Váry. to increase tourism revenues and to improve investment and export figures. Country branding is. pp. more and more nations have realised the significance of a positive and consciously controlled country image: all but a few countries in the world manage themselves as a brand. by community values. when a government or a private corporation use their power to convince people that any one of them might change the image of a whole nation. Country branding employs the tools used in branding with the towards that country. everybody who lives there is a holder (in democracies) From beneath. in the view of Godjunsson (2005. According to Papadopoulos (2004). bottom-up (in democracies The brand image consists of a vast number of elements Mostly uncoordinated communications through a large number of channels The brand name is a geographical area. .debates between researchers concerning the scientific background and the validity of country branding theories. p. they do so in order to distinguish themselves from other nations. 283-298).

price. public diplomacy means government communication aimed at Malone With regards to the above mentioned approaches. events. Tourism is an element of country branding in all parts of the world 2. 35) says.5. p. . is the least beneficial model of all because it as Szondi (2008. public diplomacy and nation branding are synonyms for public diplomacy and nation branding. beauty and the fostering of tourism using incentives both in business and in education. however. Such fields are sightseeing attractions. quality. PUBLIC DIPLOMACY According to the literature. He argued that traditional diplomacy is disappearing and identity politics is becoming the main activity of states. infrastructure. According to him the modern world of geopolitics and power is being replaced by the postmodern world of images and influences. . there are several factors that allowed branding and marketing approaches to penetrate the sphere of international relations and -cited justification for adopting branding approaches in foreign policy ad public diplomacy.Country branding involves various fields and tools in order to create a strong brand as a result of the arising synergies. security.

clear. radio. believable and positive idea of what their country investments. 6. in order to achieve long term profits related to exports.III. thus they provide information about what the country is like. 3. pp. In really (2007. EXTENDED CONCEPTS OF THE FIELD .RECENT PUBLICATIONS ON COUNTRY IMAGE AND COUNTRY BRANDING 3. imports. This approach has its roots in the assumption that a carefully chosen logo. thus he suggests to use competitive identity instead. website or piece of graphic design alone is is can only be achieved by the people and the organizations of the country changing their own behavior or maybe even their beliefs. vernment: foreign or domestic policy The way the country solicits inward investments: for business audience Cultural exchange. Competitive identity. when governments have a good. 26-27. (The natural channel approach ignores what is considered the channels of classical media. uses six communication channels. policies and communications of all six points of the hexagon so that they prove . 4. where it is heading to and how it is proceeding. migration and international relations. the basic theory behind Competitive Identity is that actions. according to Anholt: 1. print press and internet.) He argues.) wording. COMPETITIVE IDENTITY According to Anholt (2007). the cultural sector. accordingly. like television. most countries use six natural channels to communicate with the rest of the world. 2.1. that this type of communication shall not be called branding. clear. the government. cultural activities and exports: cultural products can build the reputation of a nation The people of the country themselves: their behavior abroad and at home Tourism promotion: often the loudest voice in branding a nation The main point of competitive identity actually is that the state generates an appropriate. however. 5. credible and positive idea about itself by coordinating the six communication channels adequately. This is a perfect opportunity for countries to build up or reposition their competitive national identity both internally and externally tourism.

): clearer domestic agreement on national identity and societal goals a climate where innovation is prized and practiced more effective bidding for international events more effective investment promotion more effective tourism and business travel promotion greater profile in the international media simpler accession into regional and global bodies and associations more productive cultural relations with other countries and regions. shorter-term goals (such as a certain increase in foreign direct investment or the hosting of a prestigious international event) and longer-term changes in national image. attention). It is quite possible to set a mixture of precise. 28-29. pp. it transfers magnetism to other objects. the culture sector. Countries with a Competitive Identity should find (Anholt. tourism. 2. then they stand a good chance of building and maintaining a competitive national identity both internally and externally every aspect of international relations. which might be decades away. tourists. 2007 . it has the power to create order out of chaos . talent.and reinforce this idea. and 3. Building Competitive Identity needs clearly stated and properly agreed goals. government. it attracts (consumers. importers. immigration. investors. 2007. respect. and pretty much Source: Anholt. Figure 2 The Virtuous Circle of Competitive Identity to the lasting benefit of exporters. The Competitive Identity has three properties: 1.

Figure 3 The Place Brand Experience Source: Allen. is the forming of -place experience. which is what visitors encounter when they arrive.3. physical experience constitutes what we call place experience. PLACE BRAND EXPERIENCE In practice the first step of place branding.2. en the various destinations depends on the marketing success. Each step leads to another circular process. in the past experience communication (through word-of-mouth and the communication efforts of the brand itself). Expectations towards any township appear in two components: in memories. which is often called a dynamic circular process. followed by their current experiences (place experience) and by the memories they keep about the place (post-place-experience). According to this interpretation. according to Allen (2007). 2007 .

how do we become what we want to be. but consolidates the essential characteristics of the individual identity into a brand core. The Brand Personality works from the inside outwards on the basis of several key issues: Who are we. a review of definitions and conceptualizations has provided a point of departure for exploring the relationship between the mentioned areas. the cultural melding of the self and external perception with the verbalized self-concept makes an early check on the communication gap necessary. According to the literature. CONCLUSIONS COUNTRY IMAGE AND RELATING THEORIES: CONCEPTUAL SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES The aim of this study was to explore potential relationships between country image and its relating concepts. closing the gap between the verbalized self-perception and actually realized self perception. with the realized and the verbalized self-perception. Each Place Branding process must be accompanied by thorough observation regarding the structure of the perceived image.3. what do we want to be. self-concept and outside perception. The brand must be strategically managed in order to reach an aligned target image. After examining the origins of these concepts. Only once the selfconcept and target image are in accordance can the identification gap be closed. he Place Branding process begins with in an "AS IS" state. In addition.3. he development of a Brand Core always starts in the existing culture and in the existing selfperception. The target image follows the question of how we would like to be noticed in the future from the outside and is functionally linked to the verbalized self-concept. the following main and general characteristics can be found among the country image definitions: . what do others believe we are and how would we like to be seen. which are increasingly being used in the same context. IV. reality. The branding process aims at self-perception on an active level. The perception gap develops between an image and a target image. PLACE BRAND IDENTITY MODEL Place Branding does not merely stick on new labels.

are the followings: i) economic environment. ii) ideas.general country image definitions . vi) perceptions. nation branding. vii) tourism. 3.revealing a new theory: country branding.country branding. viii) emotions/feelings. 7. Country image is a multidimensional concept. In this meaning.product-country image definitions .can be: i) impressions. iii) stereotypes. viii) beliefs. 4. Its general dimensions .in most of the cases . vi) people. vii) attitudes. With regards to the most recent publications. According to the literature it can be clearly declared the main approach these processes differ by which . According to the literature. Country image . The similarities and differences of the theories of country image building are the followings: . place branding . . The image of a country can be either spontaneous or can be directed and consequently formed. three main approaches are known in this field.1. ii) cultural environment.can be both internal and external image. iv) geographical environment/natural endowments.is the size of the geographical entity the marketing activities of which are being considered. 5.with regards to its direction .country related product image (country-of-origin) definitions. v) technological development. iv) schemas. 6.according to the definitional domains of country image in the literature . regarding to the conceptual terms of country image. the image of a country and a country itself can be evaluated and targeted to the market. Among country image definitions there are: . iii) political environment. v) associations. 2. country image can be classified as a brand equity .

with some sub-topics partially overlapping and complementing each other. citizens. Moreover. in in public diplomacy the most political stakeholders and foreign publics competitive external. competitive identity mostly creating) has the branding nature. some methods seen in practice might not even be mentioned in theoretical papers and vice versa. practical work often lacks a solid theoretical background. and coming years are also expected to witness an increased level of scientific interest in the topic. often using in nation branding often used tourism management tools (logo. continuous actions rather short and middle term country/nation branding has mostly ad hoc. promote a country and its economic. Rapid development is still unquestionably evinced by the large number of related research projects and models. in public diplomacy often used cultural events and political tools STAKEHOLDERS AND GROUPS DIRECTION publics. slogan. nation/country/place branding has more political interest and to improve the economical interest TOOLS mostly driven by marketing. place brand identity has most likely internal direction TIME-FRAME EVALUATION mostly on-going. promotion. etc.Table 2 Similarities and Differences of the Theories of Country Image Building SIMILARITIES GOALS DIFFERENCES in most of the cases the main aim is to public diplomacy is more politicized. mass/consumers. campaign driven actions competitive long term Source: edited by the author identity and results of branding methods are evaluated rather V. identity is most is likely only TARGET some cases investors can be both internal and external public diplomacy external. . SUMMARY AND FUTURE SCENARIOS The topic of country image is a rather diverse one.

more and more nations are trying to apply country branding strategies and various other tools for consciously shaping their image. ieces of literature and to present the newest lines of research in the field. whereas others are just becoming outdated. . A kind of re-organization and re-shaping of some sub-topics and their relationships with each other is almost certain to take place. it is very hard to forecast which ntific efforts and which might disappear or become merged with some other field.globalized world. As some sub-topics require further scientific investigation. as is the appearance of some new theoretical approaches further broadening the interpretational framework of the topic.

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