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Switzerland, Canada Top ‘World’s Most Reputable Countries’ List

Switzerland, Canada and Sweden have the best reputations in the world, according to a new report by the Reputation Institute, a global private consulting firm based in New York and Copenhagen.

Finland is the biggest gainer in the top 10, moving up to fourth place, from eighth last year. The U.S. is down at 22, behind Brazil and above the Czech Republic.

The firm’s fifth annual “Country RepTrak” of what it calls “The World’s Most Reputable Countries,” is a tool used to help advise countries on how to improve their reputations around the world. It also advises companies wanting to know how their country of origin influences their reputations elsewhere.

This year, instead of rating the 50 countries that either have the largest economies and populations or are in the public eye as a result of economic, political or natural events, Reputation Institute opted to do a less subjective ranking of the 55 countries with the largest GDP. That meant it left off countries with low GDPs such as Haiti and Iraq and added larger economies such as Kuwait and Romania.

To compile the data, Reputation Institute ran online surveys with 27,000 consumers in the G8 countries from January through March of this year. To add depth to the data, it interviewed 30,000 additional people in the 12 non-G8 countries with the biggest economies, including China, India and Brazil.

To compile its rankings, the firm asked three broad, general questions about the countries’ overall reputation: Did the respondents have a “good feeling” about the countries, did they admire or respect the countries, did they trust the countries and did they think the countries had a “good overall reputation.” The rankings are solely based on those questions.

Looking to learn why respondents answered the way they did, Reputation Institute asked about 17 different attributes, including physical beauty, whether the country offers an array of appealing experiences such as food, sports and entertainment and whether the country produces high-quality products and services. For the first time, It asked about which countries had “high transparency and low corruption.” Sweden ranked at the top of that list, and Iran at the bottom, with Pakistan, Russia and Nigeria close behind. The U.S. came in at No. 23, just behind Poland and above Taiwan.

Last year, Swiss investment group RobecoSAM ranked Sweden the “most sustainable country in the world” in its ranking of 59 countries, which gauges a wide range of environmental and social governance issues like carbon emissions, social cohesion and civil liberties.

Reputation Institute also asked seven more questions to learn more about what drove the broad rankings: would you buy products from the country, would you invest there, visit there, live or work there, study or organize an event there.

Interestingly, the U.S. is considered the third-most technologically advanced country and it ranks No. 8 as a contributor to global culture. The U.S. also scores poorly on efficient use of natural resources, safety, beauty, ethics and “friendly & welcoming people.”

Perception is everything in politics as well as in business. Earlier this year, Propet released a study of 130 companies that measured reputation. With less than 9 percent of consumers believing companies today have strong reputations, this is a tool for companies to determine what they need to do to measure, manage, and build their reputation.

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