Migration intentions: a sign of a weak nation brand? A multi-group analysis between China and Pakistan

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Purpose: This study aims to focus on the internal audiences of a nation brand, i.e. the citizens of a country and is built on the theoretical premise that migration intentions (MIs) prevalent among the skilled and educated elite of a home country signifies a weak nation brand. Design/methodology/approach: Through the theoretical support of the migration motive theory of push and pull (Richmond, 1993), nation branding theory (Anholt, 2006) and the two-construct country image model (Roth and Diamantopoulos, 2009), the authors constructed a framework that incorporates the relationship between affective and cognitive country images of both home and migrant country and migration motives and intentions to migrate. Findings: The findings reveal that push and pull factors are strongly affected by the images of the home country and the migrant country, respectively and strong home country images are associated with weak MIs, while the opposite is true if a strong migrant country image is possessed. Further, evidence of the dominance effect of cognitive images in complex decision-making environments such as migration was also provided. Moreover, the results also suggest significant differences between Chinese and Pakistani respondents. Practical implications: This study guides nation branding researchers by opening up a debate on self-images and conceptually independent attitudinal constructs of country image. For policymakers in developing countries, the results reveal that they should primarily strengthen their internal brands and focus on cognitive images to stem the flow of brain drain. Originality/value: This study takes the traditional country image debate to migration discourse, moves it forward, contextualizes it as a function of a nation’s brand strength and provides evidence that confluence of migration studies with the theoretical stream of nation branding can provide significant explanations for migrant behavior.

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Journal of Product and Brand Management

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