BRANDING THE NATIONAL INTEREST: THE RISE OF SOFT POWER IN JAPAN AND CHINA
This thesis attempts to show that intangible assets like brands are sources of soft power that can help states fulfill their national interest. National interest is defined for purposes of this study in terms of wealth and image creation. More specifically it makes the following arguments: First, corporate brands hold more than just economic value in terms of brand equity; they carry within them a country's "value system". This will be discussed in terms of a country's history as well as its political and corporate environment. Second, a national brand (e.g. in the form of Japan, Inc.) is a reflection of corporate brands. Third, the national brand is a contributor to the national image of a country. It can enable the country to gain recognition or legitimacy within the international system. Lastly, national brands help fulfill a state's national interest in terms of image creation and wealth. They can achieve both economic and political objectives for the state. The fulfillment of national interest will be discussed in the context of soft power. In sum, this thesis shows how soft power generated from brands can fulfill a state's desired outcomes. States can use brands as a source of soft power in the fulfillment of their national interest of wealth and favorable image creation. More specifically, in employing a comparative case study analysis of two Asian countries (i.e. Japan and China), this thesis argues for the importance of a value system as a theoretical grounding for the creation of a national image and subsequently, a source of soft power.
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