United we classify others

Two articles hit me a few days ago. One of them was an article describing a survey by the Reputation Institute. The news article titled ‘Tel Aviv ranked among least reputable cities‘. The article was found at http://www.timesofisrael.com/tel-aviv-ranked-among-least-reputable-cities/. This was an issue for me, because I have been to Tel Aviv. Why would it not be reputable, or at least one of the more reputable cities. In all that I wonder, because the top 600 cities (by population) are larger than Tel Aviv with its 425,000 people. So coming in at 92 whilst 600 are larger is still a good achievement. What puzzles me in all this is the part ‘least reputable cities‘. What makes a city reputable? I did not see the research or the questionnaire, but when we see “the Reputation Institute, asked 19,000 residents of France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Japan, the US, Canada and Russia to rank the world’s top 101 cities based on their levels of trust, esteem, admiration and respect“.

Trust, “In a social context, trust has several connotations“, which is nice yet did the interviewees realise that? The paper (at http://misrc.umn.edu/workingpapers/fullpapers/1996/9604_040100.pdf) gives a nice view on how trust is not an easy thing to tackle. at Page 43 we read “one can develop a good relationship with another person by gradually increasing Trusting behaviour, while at the same time decreasing any minor control measures directed at the other person. Decreasing controls includes less ‘checking up’ on the other person. It also includes moving from a formal relationship to a more personal, informal relationship

Which is nice when we consider that Russia, land of GRU and FSB gives way to ‘decreasing any minor control measures directed at the other person’, so do the interviewees from Russia consider trust the way a person from Sweden, the Netherlands or even Uruguay does? I can go on for the other nations, but in all, many have a feeling towards Israel, their view is biased from day one. Plenty with an anti-Israeli view, some with an anti-Jewish view, the probability of a mean will not apply here.

Then we get ‘esteem’, are they looking upon Tel Aviv in a particular way? Are they confusing esteem with ‘self-esteem’? All questions that go through my mind. We could state that Bagdad in last position is validly there, but over what level of reasoning? Because it is in a warzone?

Yet, do my thoughts invalidate the results? The paper as shown does give a solid foundation, the methodology sounds sound. In that I state ‘sounding sound’ is not entirely on the ball. You see, the heart of the respondent, how does that come in? The study overview states “G8 general public (only people who were ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ familiar)” Yet what makes you somewhat or very familiar? How many Non-Jewish people who have been to Tel Aviv answered this? How many know this place. I was there, and I felt safer there than in Budapest (and Budapest is a decent and safe city). Tel Aviv scored less than Johannesburg, Hanoi, even Cape Town, known for its high crime ended up with a score better than Tel Aviv.

So what gives value to this report? This is not the setting of my view, it is a question. The question exists in my mind because if we give reputation and value to a place we must know and agree to the standards given here. That is the question that should be on your mind too. Now, you might not care about Tel Aviv for many reasons. The bulk of us will never visit the city, visit the country or end up anywhere near it. So how do we give value to a place, even when we are somewhat familiar? Yet there is more than just the result as given in the Times of Israel. Slide 22 when you get the 2015 reputation report (at http://www.reputationinstitute.com/), shows a very interesting part. Familiarity versus Reputation. So how about the places with low familiarity? How come their reputation is so high? Is it the media, because there again we see that Tel Aviv gets in the news when there are rocket attacks and terrorist issues towards Israel, so how can we consider reliability in this report? Beware my words, I am not stating that the methodology is in question, I am wondering how the validity of vision from the interviewee is correct. In a similar way, we can understand that Baghdad is graded poorly, but why is Tehran graded so bad, it is because of our impression of Iran? In that same context we might understand why Sydney, Stockholm and Melbourne are graded so high, yet in all this, what makes Zurich more reputable than Amsterdam or Oslo, perhaps because FIFA is placed there? With the FIFA news Zurich got a lot of visibility, but is that visibility correctly graded in the mind of the beholder? The issue here is the colouring by the media, that influence cannot be countered, which is why I think that Tel Aviv got placed so badly (in this 101 list). Behind all this is a bigger issue. It is the one reason why I object to some of these studies.

In my personal view this list caters to presentations and to some who need to see a national interest, it also places my own view in debate (as it should), not because my view is too shallow, but as we go through the iterations of reasoning behind this as we see in slide 24. The Advanced Economy gives view to the question ‘why is an advanced economy part of reputation or familiarity?‘ This connect on more than one level, which got me to ‘The Economics of Developing Countries‘, what makes for an Advanced Economy? In that view Peru, Chile and Uruguay are not amongst them, so with close to 1/3 of the measurement absent, in that case, how come Montevideo scored so high in that list? If it is the state of peace, we see something a lot more linking, Tel Aviv, Karachi and Abu Dhabi together, a pattern seems to emerge. In that view we must wonder as Tel Aviv is not in war, but under near constant attack. Now when we add Rio to all this, we see another pattern emerge, those not relying on ‘stability of peace’ we see the need for positive reinforced publications, Rio is certainly getting that. In all this we do not question the reputation institute or their methodology, it is all about the people giving their vote. It is that view which gives voice to my worry. Slide 24 is descriptive in all this. ‘Appealing environment’ is one, which give the view to ‘non war torn places’, Effective government is the second one. Yet, why is ‘effective’ government part of all this? You see, in my view, the most effective government is a corrupt one, a humane based government (like Norway and Sweden) tends to be expensive and not that effective. Perhaps effective government and humane government are terms that are interchangeable? I am just asking. In all this we see the four earlier words at the core of this. ‘Trust’, ‘Admire’, ‘Esteem’ and ‘Feeling’, so how does this all link?

Slide 25 gives us ‘Social, Economic & Environmental Policies’ in regard to ‘Effective Government’, are they for real? Environmental policies can be made more effective, but they do not, I say again absolutely not make for an effective government. In addition when an Advanced Economy relies on ‘Financially Stable & Future Growth’ we can state that Wall Street took care of that not happening in the last decade and in addition not for many more years to come, so when we acknowledge that the elements of attributes are an issue, does that not add question marks to the stated foundation of this report? In all this the summary from page 28 onwards makes sense. I do not disagree, I do not oppose it, but in all this, it is a view brought to us on the premise of a flawed view, the influenced view of the interviewee, that part is missing, which gives the question mark within me. This gets me to slide 34, a good reputation might influx tourism, yet in all this, the tainting influence of media becomes a colouring issue, discriminatory and revoking as we ignore or forget that perception is tainting and the press factor seems to be uncorrected for. So how is that not an issue in all this, or at least a non-correcting influence? This all gets me to the final part “living or working in the city, or deciding to invest in the city” might be deciding factors for anyone when the reputation is an issue, but on what foundation? Still overall the report remains an interesting piece of work, the supportive behaviour slide gives fuel to that.

My views do come to fruition in slide 40 where we see the two quotes “Communication is required to capitalize on good reality and overcome poor perceptions” and “Change is required to alter ‘reality’ and minimize reputational risk“. In my mind, this states that opportunity and risk are influential factors that can be pressed on by the media, the media sets perception and alters reality in a hundred ways, so does this paper show true reputation, or does this show how the media is too large a factor to ignore and in all this a place like Tel Aviv got introduced to the less reputable score than they should have gotten? The question is how we see a true score on reputation and perhaps that list is not completely incorrect, but in my personal view, the idea that Bangkok is more reputable than Tel Aviv remains an issue, one of perception and I have actually been to both places.

 

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