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Advancing the country image construct from a public relations perspective: From model to measurement

Alexander Buhmann (Department of Mass Media and Communication Research, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland.)
Diana Ingenhoff (Department of Media and Communication Research, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 2 February 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to develop and test a new model for the measurement of the constitution and effects of the country image as a central target construct in international public relations.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors combine concepts from reputation management (Eisenegger and Imhof, 2008; Ingenhoff and Sommer, 2007), national identity theory (Smith, 1987), and attitude theory (Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980) to derive a four-dimensional model, conceptualizing country images as stakeholder attitudes toward a nation and its state, comprising specific beliefs and general feelings in a functional, normative, aesthetic, and emotional dimension. Furthermore, the authors develop a path model to analyze the country image’s effect on stakeholder behavior. This model is operationalized and tested in a survey regarding the country image of the USA and its effects on travel behavior.

Findings

Results show how functional, normative and aesthetic image dimensions vary in affecting the formation of the affective image component. It is also demonstrated how the affective image di-mension acts as a mediator in the image’s effect on stakeholder behavior.

Practical implications

For international public relations and public diplomacy practice the developed model supplies a new approach for country image analyses which will serve and improve the development and evaluation of cross-national communication strategies.

Originality/value

The paper introduces a new theory-grounded approach to clarify the dimensionality of the country image construct. It is the first to operationalize cognitive and affective dimensions of the country image by combining formative and reflective indicators in a mixed specified construct.

Keywords

Citation

Buhmann, A. and Ingenhoff, D. (2015), "Advancing the country image construct from a public relations perspective: From model to measurement", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 62-80. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCOM-11-2013-0083

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited