Country-of-Origin as a Competitive Advantage and How to Maximize It by Branding

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School of Business | Bachelor's thesis
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Degree programme
Country-of-origin, shortened COO, is examined in this bachelor's thesis from the view of if it is a source of a competitive advantage and if so, how can this advantage be maximized by branding. This paper is a literature review and thus it covers the most impactful and apt research made about the issue from the time period that is necessary, which in this case means from the late 70's until the mid 2010's. The issue is assessed by first introducing it and the motivations behind it. In this part of the paper the research question is formed and justified with the current state of the globalized world and the research made about the phenomenon. Then, in the main second chapter of the paper country-of-origin, or actually more precisely country-of-origin effects (COE), are inspected precisely. COEs are the most closely observed matter in this paper because the effects of COO are the thing that actually matters in the real life markets and thus it is most beneficial for business decision makers to inspect them. The examination is started by defining the issue and the most important aspects around it. Then if competitive advantage can be gained through COO is assessed and after that the determinants of country-of-origin effects are presented. After exhibiting country-of-origin, branding is taken into examination in the third main chapter of the paper. First, the linkages between branding and COO are presented in order to clearly see how these two are attached. Then, just like COO, to grasp the concept of branding it is first defined and the important aspects of its history and the research made about it are presented. Then the review moves on to how branding can be used to gain a sustainable competitive advantage from COEs. A major part of this are the managerial implications presented in a chapter dedicated to them. Managerial implications are included in the branding section of the paper because these implications show how the advantage can be gained in practice. Finally, in the fourth main chapter of the paper the issue is concluded and discussed. It is concluded that yes, if used correctly in the right context COO can definitely be a major source of competitive advantage that can be maximized by branding. However, it is underlined that the issue is highly situative by its nature. Also, multiple limitations of the studies reviewed are presented and future research avenues are scoped out based on the limitations.
Thesis advisor
Kajalo, Sami
country-of-origin, foreign product purchase, domestic product purchase, product origin, branding, country branding, country-of-origin effects, competitive advantage
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