Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Pető Institute: quo vadis?

Tossed in domestic political currents

Shaky foundations

Almost a month ago now, Conductive World flagged up that the Pető Institute (which is controlled by a 'foundation' – an alapitvány under Hungarian law) is now caught up in a major Government review of the foundation sector in Hungary, brought about by a variety of supposed abuses, corruptions and inefficiencies, the whole matter perhaps not altogether unrelated to domestic political concerns.

For further details on this matter, with onward links to Hungarian and German sites, see:

Since then, as far as I am aware there have been no further public reports on this matter, in English, Hungarian or German (do please correct me if you know better). The original official Hungarian statement anticipated decisions about what will be happening to the 35 specified foundations, of which the Peto Foundation is one, by the end of April – only another six weeks away now.

A powerful cross-current

Perhaps with specific respect to the the Pető Foundation the nature of the decision will be affected by a further force in Hungarian economic, social and political life – the desperate desire to sell the country and its products on international markets. A newspaper interview about marketing Hungary sheds light on official thinking on what needs doing in general terms.

This interview first appeared the Hungarian AmCham's Voice and was reprinted yesterday in Xpatloop Budapest. Gergely Böszörményi Nagy, Deputy Head of the Department for Strategic Communication at the State Secretariat for Government Communications, a former marketing professional, was interviewd by Robin Marshal –

Branding should be as important for a country as it is for a product... Now Hungary is finally taking its own brand seriously [to] develop a single, unifying brand for Hungary, channel all government communications to reflect it...
...the idea around which all Hungarian branding communication will coalesce is... Potential.
We decided on separate focus areas: Creative Potential; Green Potential; Healing Potential; and Market Potential...”
...marketing for the Healing Potential will target people interested in health tourism, for example.
The drive has come too late for the EU Presidency – a fully thought through strategy is expected to be in place by this fall, to take effect from the beginning of 2012. But that doesn’t mean the principals can’t be applied; targeted communication, building on Hungary’s heritage and potential, and emphasizing what Böszörményi Nagy calls “European Hungarian values.”

The relevance here is that the Pető Institute has already been publicly deemed a Hungaricum, a supposedly uniquely Hungarian product, a national treasure of considerable potential export value. The very term Hungaricum is a marketing concept. No doubt this will have been a matter for consideration in considering the future nature of the governance of the present Pető Institute and its Institute. Read the complete interview to form your own judgement on this, and what might be the possible implications if the Pető Institute goes forward into the future on this basis:


Whatever immediate decisions are made about the future of the Pető Foundation (and therefore the Pető Institute's future along with it) will markedly affect all those around the world who depend upon that Institute as the major (almost the monopolist) supplier of the world's conductor workforce. Political shenanigans in Hungary are of little or no practical interest to those who work in centres and centers around the world, or to families and other direct employers of conductors' labour. They are buying a scarce and expensive commodity and what they care about is supply – and quality.

They are purchasing a costly and sometimes contentious product, operating in personal and professional contexts where nobody gives a fig for whether they are buying something that is either 'world-famous' or Hungarian. They are the customer base of any future realisation of the supposed export potential of this particular brand, and they are probably the group whose interests will be considered last in coarrying the Hungaran government's review of this paricular foundation's future – the last but one, that is, the last of all most likely being children and adults with motor disorders around the world.

We live in interesting times. One might even find cause for renewed attention to that hoary old question:

Marshal, R. (2011) Interview with Gergely Böszörményi Nagy on country branding For Hungary, XpatLoop.com, 14 February

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