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Canada has earned the highest reputation ranking in Reputation Institute's 2011 Country RepTrak™, an annual study measuring the public perceptions of 50 countries around the world.
Canada was followed by Sweden, Australia, Switzerland and New Zealand, all showing stability in their high scores throughout the three years of this annual study. Their strong reputations are attributed to their steady democracies, high GDP per capita, focus on active lifestyles, well developed political systems and perceived neutrality to international political upheavals. The lowest ranked countries in the 50-country study were Pakistan, Iran and Iraq, while the United States and China were ranked in the middle and lower tiers.
One of the most interesting findings of this year's study was the significant decrease in the average score of all countries measured, suggesting a growing cynicism people have towards countries, possibly due to recent developments in the world economy and a general loss of faith in politics worldwide. The effect of economics and politics on countries' reputation also showed in some of the big movements from 2009 and 2011: Spain, Ireland and Greece dropped by 5th, 6th and 7th places respectively, while Germany climbed 5 spots to number 11. The outcome in Greece has been even more pronounced internally; the study found that, when rated by Greeks, the country scored almost 16 points lower than by people outside of Greece. "This suggests that in addition to managing their reputations externally, countries should also invest in building domestic pride to drive positive perceptions both inside and outside the country – especially following a trust crisis like we see it in this case," says Nicolas Georges Trad.
Reputation Institute also measured the impact that people's perceptions on the 16 attributes had on the countries' overall reputation. It was found that being perceived as a safe country and a country with friendly people are the most important attributes that drive a country's reputation. This could explain Mexico's plunge from 24th place in 2009 to 35th place this year, as it increasingly struggles with an image of a violent, lawless country.
Perhaps the most important finding in 2011 Country RepTrak™ is that reputation means money. Reputation Institute found a very strong correlation between a country's reputation and people's willingness to visit there, buy its exported products and services, invest there, study there or even live and work there. "Our approach provides a strategic tool that enables countries to make informed decisions about how to spend their brand and reputation building budgets," says Kasper Nielsen, Executive Partner of Reputation Institute. "When you consider that a 10% increase in your country's reputation leads to an 11% rise in your tourism receipts, and a 2% increase in your FDI – this is something both countries and companies might want to take note of."