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Managing country reputations and international image

Course Description

In our rapidly globalizing world, competition is intense. The importance of understanding and managing country brands, reputations and international image has risen exponentially. Many governments actively take pains to actively mold perceptions by controlled 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 broader national (and sub national) populations. Whether or not governments actively seek to engage with such perceptions, the fortunes of their respective markets,
currencies, tourism industries and key companies cannot help but be affected by them.

The primary goal of Branding the Nation will be to help students develop a deeper understanding of the most salient country risks and the various ways in which governments and companies attempt to limit their impact or else market around them. Understanding such strategies -- what do they share? what do they spin? what do they hide? (and why?) – will help prepare students embarking on careers in international business or entrepreneurship, marketing, tourism, consulting or investment, to better discern the risks and rewards before
them in the global arena.

The classroom experience in Branding the Nation will include lectures, case studies and interactive exercises—with an eye towards deconstructing specific messaging and narrative challenges. We will also be drawing upon the unique perspectives and applied experiences of world-class guest speakers from across the globe. Guest lectures will primarily be given in situ and in person. Where feasible, outside-the-class networking opportunities to get to know our guest speakers may be offered to students following the culmination of each classroom section or in-country.

Over the past eight years, BTN guest lecturers (during the classroom experience) and plenary speakers (during the trip) have frequently included very senior figures in business, media and government—including sitting heads of state, ministers, legislators, diplomats, journalists, unicorn founders, and the C-suite officers of major national and multinational corporations.

A variety of themes and geographies will be discussed in class and covered in the readings and case studies for comparative and illustrative purposes. While the travel portion of this course will take place in Latin America, and some class sessions will have a regional focus, BtN is very much a globally focused course. Readings, speakers and lectures will cover a broad array of international examples from Europe, Latin America, Russia, East and South Asia, MENA, Sub Saharan Africa, and North America as well—seeking a careful balance
between “emerging” and “developed” market perspectives. 

The travel portion of the course will immerse students into two very different, and deeply fascinating, national arenas.

Colombia (Bogota and Medellin):
Colombia is a country that has managed, despite numerous ongoing internal problems, to reinvent itself globally in recent years. From its Escobar era nadir, when it was practically a failed state, it has managed—through decades of meticulous and strategic rebranding efforts—to transform itself into a tourism, culture, and investment powerhouse. But recent developments, including a loss of investment grade status, a polarizing guerilla peace process, and private sector unease under the country’s first ever left wing government, pose significant challenges to the sustaining one of Latin America’s most successful nation brands.

Mexico (Mexico City):
Long the most populous Hispanic country, in 2023 Mexico overtook Spain to become the largest Hispanic economy as well. After decades of sluggish growth, Mexico is today the midst of a historic multisectoral economic boom—including in tourism, manufacturing, and remittances. The Mexican Peso is one of the best performing currencies in the world over the past twelve months, and all signs point to 2023-2024 being a “Mexico moment” for global markets. Underpinning this amazing economic upswing has been a powerful global “nearshoring” narrative that Mexico has been able to successfully lean into, and which has brought unprecedented levels of foreign direct investment flooding in.


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Faculty and advisor bios

Faculty bio

Daniel Lansberg-Rodríguez is director for the Latin American region at Greenmantle LLC, a macroeconomic and geopolitical advising firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a fellow at the Comparative Constitutions Project. On faculty at Kellogg since 2014, he has likewise taught at Harvard University’s summer school and guest lectured at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Harvard, the New York University Stern School of Business and IESA Business School in Caracas. His teaching and research focus include political economy, international markets, sovereign risk and constitutional and institutional development. Daniel is a weekly political columnist for the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional. A regular journalist and opinion writer for mediums such as Foreign Policy, the Financial Times, the New York Times and the Atlantic. His analyses have likewise appeared in the New Yorker, Harpers, the Washington Post, the New Republic and the Los Angeles Review of Books (among others). He is also a frequent guest on television and radio, including NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show, HuffPo Live, Al Jazeera America and CNN. His academic publications include articles in the UCLA Law Review, the Indian Journal of Constitutional Law and POLITAI. From 2005–2007, Daniel worked at Fundación Eugenio Mendoza where he specialized in urban microfinance, and from 2009–2010 he was the division chief for entrepreneurial development at the Sucre Municipal Government in Caracas, Venezuela. Other work experience includes the private wealth management division of Goldman Sachs, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Daniel holds a B.A. Cum Laude from Carleton College, a J.D. from the University of Chicago, and an M.P.P. from Harvard University with a concentration in international trade and finance.

Advisor bio

Christine Post has been at Kellogg for five years, and currently works on the Executive MBA (EMBA) Student Experience team. She previously served as assistant director of Admissions for EMBA, and within Kellogg Alumni Relations and Development as an associate director of Annual Giving.

Prior to joining Kellogg, Christine was a commercial litigation attorney within a large international law firm representing financial service firms, insurance companies, and other corporations in breach of contract, antitrust, and trademark matters. She thereafter served as the Director of Recruiting and Professional Development for a mid-sized law firm. Christine holds a B.A. in Political Science from Indiana University and a J.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. After sitting for the Illinois Bar, Christine spent a celebratory month exploring 11 European countries.

Christine is married and has two young children. They live just blocks from Northwestern’s Ryan Field and enjoy cheering on the Wildcats.

This will be her third year serving as a GIM Advisor.