In an increasingly globalized world, the importance of managing country reputations and international image has risen exponentially for world leaders. More than ever, governments take pains to control messaging toward diverse stakeholder groups including potential investors and tourists, the global press, bondholders, multinationals and international watchdog NGOs, to say nothing of domestic elites and national populations. This course will explore the sometimes tangled dynamic between governments and the private sector (particularly within emerging markets), with an eye towards better understanding the geopolitical and macroeconomic risks facing entrepreneurs and investors. A deeper understanding of the most salient country risks and of how local governments market around them -- what do they share? what do they spin? what do they hide? (and why?) – will prepare students embarking on a career in international business or entrepreneurship, marketing, tourism, consulting or investment, to better discern the risks and rewards, and to better straddle the chasm between how countries present themselves and how they function in practice.
Despite being a diverse region, rich in resources and human capital, many Latin American countries routinely rank near the bottom of the World Bank’s Annual Ease of Doing Business Index. Better understanding the region will require us to challenge many of the contextual assumptions of business education in the United States, which has tended to focus on best practices for markets that are relatively free, where corruption is comparatively minimal, infrastructure extant, and direct government interventions are rare. Given very different national realities prevalent in an emerging markets context, the same challenges that countries must convince potential investors to face. Indeed, for Latin American countries, given history proclivities towards drastic political swings from left to right and back, these challenges are of particular salience.
The classroom experience in Branding the Nation will include lectures, case studies and interactive exercises, as well as drawing upon the unique perspectives and applied experiences of world class guest speakers from across the globe. The first two class sessions will usually not have guest speakers, but most or all of the latter ones will. In past years, this course’s guest lecturers and plenary meeting speakers have included former and sitting heads of state, ministers, diplomats, celebrated authors and journalists, as well as founders and C-suite officers of marquee national and multinational companies.
While Latin America be a key area of focus for this course, a broad array of international examples from Europe, Asia and Africa will be discussed in class and included in readings for comparative and illustrative purposes and within thematic context.
This class offers Kellogg students unique access and networking opportunities to the highest levels of business and government in Latin America as well as an opportunity to strengthen their own global networks in the LatAm region (and elsewhere).