TheNigerianVoice Online Radio Center

GOVERNMENT SHOULD SEE REPUTATION AS PEOPLE'S MOST VALUABLE ASSET

By NBF News

Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora speaks more on national reputation, consequences of the military rule, leadership and other contemporary issues. Excerpts:

Reputation and national reputation
Reputation is simply the result of what you do, and what other people say about you.

It is a specific character ascribed to a person or thing. Reputation is known to be an ubiquitous, spontaneous and highly efficient mechanism of social control in natural societies. It acts on different levels of agency, individual and supra-individual. At the supra-individual level, it concerns groups, communities, collectives and abstract social entities such as firms, corporations, organizations, countries, cultures and even civilizations. It affects phenomena of different scale, from everyday life to relationships between nations.

National reputation is a formed opinion (more technically, a social evaluation) of outsiders toward a group of entities called nation, on a certain criterion.

The core of national reputation essentially lies on how a nation as a whole; its people behave towards, interact with, and present themselves to other nations and their people.

Sen. Mamora observed that since the advent of globalization, national reputation has become ever more critical assets in the modern world.

Attempts to enhance these assets are sometimes pursued by Governments under the name of 'nation branding'- all too often a naïve, ineffectual and application of commercial marketing techniques- and sometimes in a narrow and primitive form of public diplomacy.

Import of national reputation on brands
Reputations of countries are analogous to the brand images of companies and products, and are equally critical to the progress and prosperity of those countries, because of their influence on the opinions and behaviour of each country's target audiences, foreign investors, tourists, consumers, entrepreneurs, trading partners, the media, other governments, donors, multilateral agencies, and so on.

Nations and regions that are lucky or virtuous enough to have acquired a positive reputation find that everything they or their citizens wish to do on the global stage is easier; their brand goes before them like a calling card that opens doors, creates trust and respect, and raises the expectation of quality, competence and integrity. The corollary applies.

According to him, countries with reputation for being poor, uncultured, backward, dangerous or corrupt will find that everything they or their citizens try to achieve outside their own neighborhoods is harder, and the onus is always on them to prove that they don't conform to the national stereotype.

Nations image management, Japan, Germany as examples

Compare the way consumers in Europe or America will willingly pay for an unknown 'Japanese' product than for an identical 'Taiwan' or 'Korean' product that was probably made in the same Chinese factory.

Compare how the international media will report positively on an ordinary piece of policy from the government of a country reputed to be fair, 'rich' and stable, with the silence or sharp criticism that greets a wise, brave and innovative policy from a Country saddled with a negative image.

National reputation cannot be constructed; it can only be earned. He reminded that Socrates observed, 'The way to achieve a better reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear''.

Image change usually takes place over decades and generations, not months or years. He narrated Japan and Germany experiences. The high international esteem in which Japan and Germany are held today contrasts dramatically with their pariah status after the Second World War; but the process has been a long and painful one. In both cases, image change took place as a consequence of a deliberate, long-term programme of political reform, improved social stability, economic growth and, indispensably, a retreat into non-militarism. Interestingly, it was through the politically neutral medium of consumer products that both Japan and Germany were able to start the process of rebuilding international trust. Today they respectively rank first and worldwide for export preference.

Competitive identity
The concept of 'competitive identity', is a phrase coined in preference to the term 'nation branding' to describe what is essentially a plan for mobilizing the strategies, activities, investments, innovations and communications of as many national sectors as possible, both public and private, in a concerted drive to prove to the world that the Nation deserves a different, broader and more positive image.

The theory of competitive identity takes its cue from which country images are 'naturally' evolved. First, the people of the nation themselves - politicians', media, as well as the nationals in general; how they behave when abroad and how they treat visitors to their country. Second, the policy decision of the government, whether foreign policy, which directly affects the 'audience' or domestic policy reported in the international and local media.

It is the duty of every responsible Government in the age of globalization, to recognize that the nation's reputation, one of the most valuable assets of its people, is held in trust for the duration of its period in office. Its duty is to hand that reputation down to its successors, whatever their political persuasion, in at least, as good health as it received it, and to improve, if possible for the benefit of future generations.

Whether we are speaking of competitive identity or public diplomacy, there seems little doubt that if the world's governments placed half the value that most wise corporations have learned to their names, the world would be a safer and quarter place than it is today.