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Impact of country image on relationship maintenance: a case study of Korean Government Scholarship Program alumni

Abstract

Governments sponsor student-mobility programs with the expectation that students will build a more favorable and informed opinion of the host country which, in turn, will determine more favorable behavior towards the host country. Nevertheless, assessments of this logic are rare. Based on a survey of the Korean Government Scholarship Program’s alumni (n = 579), we analyze the alumni’s country image of South Korea and how this image determines their relationship maintenance behavior with South Korean people. Our findings show that the KGSP alumni’s image of South Korea partly explains the variance in their personal and professional relationship maintenance with South Koreans. Our findings show that the alumni’s emotions about South Korea influence their personal relationship maintenance behavior more than does each of the cognitive dimensions of the country image, while the functional dimension, which evaluates their beliefs about the country’s competencies and the competitiveness of its economic and political systems, has the highest influence on the alumni’s professional relationship maintenance.

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Acknowledgements

This project is supported by the 2018 and 2019 Korea Foundation Support for Policy-Oriented Research grants. We would like to thank Hyelim Lee and Tom Norris for invaluable research assistance; Moamen Gouda, Nancy Snow, Jeongnam Kim, Yeunjae Lee, Alexander Buhmann, Seong-Hun Yun, Rhonda Zaharna, and two anonymous reviewers for constructive feedback on earlier drafts.

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Appendices

Appendices

Appendix 1: Questionnaire

Formative dimension items How much do you agree with this statement? [Strongly disagree—1, Strongly agree—7]
functional1 South Korea’s economy is highly innovative and fit for the future
functional2 South Korea produces very high-quality goods and services
functional3 South Korea has highly competent entrepreneurs
functional4 South Korea is very wealthy
functional5 South Korea is technologically highly advanced
functional6 South Korea holds a strong position in the global economy
functional7 The labor markets in South Korea are equipped with highly competent people
functional8 South Korea has a globally influential culture
functional9 Athletes and sports teams from South Korea are internationally known for their success
functional10 Competent officials govern South Korean politics
functional11 South Korea has a very stable political system
functional12 South Korea has a well-functioning infrastructure
functional13 South Korea provides well-functioning welfare systems and pension plans
functional14 South Korea is highly innovative in science and research
functional15 South Korea provides great educational opportunities
functional16 The level of education in South Korea is very high
normative1 South Korea is very active in protecting the environment
normative2 South Korea is known for its strong commitment to social issues (e.g., development aid, civil rights)
normative3 South Korea has high ethical standards
normative4 South Korea is a socially responsible member of the international community
normative5 South Korea respects the values of other nations and peoples
normative6 South Korea takes responsibility for helping out in international crises
normative7 South Korea is a welcoming country
normative8 South Korea has excellent civil rights
normative9 South Korea has a very just welfare system
normative10 South Korea acts very fairly in international politics
aesthetic1 South Korea is home to beautiful cultural assets (e.g., arts, architecture, music, film etc.)
aesthetic2 South Korea has delicious foods and a wonderful cuisine
aesthetic3 South Korea has a very fascinating history
aesthetic4 South Korea has rich traditions
aesthetic5 South Korea has beautiful scenery
aesthetic6 South Korea has a lot of preserved nature
aesthetic7 South Korea has lots of charismatic people (e.g., in politics, sports, media, etc.)

Appendix 2: Supplementary data

See Tables 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.

Table 5 Validation of the reflective components of the country image
Table 6 Correlation with summary questions
Table 7 Validation of the formative component of the country image
Table 8 Validation of the personal relationship maintenance behavior construct
Table 9 f2 scores of cognitive dimensions influence on emotional dimension
Table 10 Q2 value score

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Varpahovskis, E., Ayhan, K.J. Impact of country image on relationship maintenance: a case study of Korean Government Scholarship Program alumni. Place Brand Public Dipl 18, 52–64 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41254-020-00177-0

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Keywords

  • Public diplomacy
  • Korean Government Scholarship Program
  • Student-mobility programs
  • Relationship management
  • Country image
  • PLS-SEM