Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Global Ranking of Soft Power 2017

softpower30.portland-communications.com; [JB - for a glimpse of how no. 8 views no. 3, see.]

image from, citing "Portland Soft Power"

Executive Summary (pp. 10-14)

The Soft Power 30 [includes chart, The Soft Power 30 framework]

The nature of power has never been more complex. It had long been held
that traditional hard power involving armies and economic might ruled
the day. This resulted in a straight-forward power exchange – whoever was
stronger was dominant.

Now, we are living in an increasingly complex multi-dimensional, and
interdependent world. Power has become more diffuse, moving from West
to East, as well as away from governments altogether as more non-state
actors leverage international influence. This is in large part due to the digital
revolution, which has eroded national borders, creating challenges and
opportunities in equal measure. It has also allowed citizens to mobilise in new
ways, and build bridges across geographical divides.

What does this mean for global affairs? Countries are realising that old-world
hard power can no longer influence outcomes and achieve their foreign
policy goals as they might desire. Instead, it is the ability to encourage
collaboration and build networks and relationships which is the new currency.
As Professor Joseph Nye, who first coined the phrase "soft power" 27 years ago
said, "power with others can be more effective than power over others". But
while there is a growing enthusiasm for soft power in global capitals, it has
not always been matched by the understanding and capability required to
deploy it successfully.

Fundamental to deploying this is a clear and accurate measurement of a
nation’s soft power resources.

This is the aim of The Soft Power 30 index – the world’s most comprehensive
comparative assessment of global soft power. It combines objective data
and international polling to build what Professor Nye has described as "the
clearest picture of global soft power to date."

It can take many generations to build soft power. So it is no surprise that the
results of the 2017 Soft Power 30 index are broadly in line with those seen
in 2015 and 2016. But while the same countries fill the top five spots, their
positions in the rankings have changed. Our findings show that European soft
power is recovering. North America’s capability is on the decline, while Asia
is on the rise. The US has dropped two places from last year’s top spot, while
France has emerged as the overall world leader when it comes to soft power.

The index illustrates the threat to the global standing of both America
and the UK, due in part to the recent Brexit decision, and the election of a
mercurial US President in Donald Trump. Trump’s "America First" doctrine
has played poorly abroad, alienating allies, and damaging links with the rest
of the world. The Pew Research Center’s recent study on global perceptions
of America reported similar findings. Asia’s soft power continues its steady
upward march from our 2015 benchmark. This is particularly evident in the
case of China, as it takes on larger global leadership role, just as the US has
entered a period of retreat from the world.

Working with polling firm Alligator Research, we also made use of newly
commissioned polling in 25 different nations to gauge the appeal of
countries’ soft power assets. Our polling surveys publics in every region of
the globe. We asked respondents to rate countries based on seven different
categories including culture, cuisine, and foreign policy, among others.

In order to deliver greater practical insights on soft power, public engagement, and
digital diplomacy, this year’s report draws on a new partnership with the University of
Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy – the world’s first academic institution
dedicated to the study of public diplomacy. USC’s Center on Public Diplomacy has
a longstanding track record for bringing academic rigour to the discipline of public
diplomacy, and translating cutting-edge research into actionable insights for diplomats
and policy makers.

For the third edition of The Soft Power 30, we shift our focus from theoretical debate
around soft power and digital diplomacy to an exploration of the practical issues
associated with both.

In addition to contributions from experts at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, this
report also features thought provoking pieces from current and former diplomats, senior
government officials, and NGOs working in foreign policy.

The report then concludes with a final look at the key lessons and trends from the 2017
index, and a look to the year ahead and plans for the 2018 Soft Power 30.


JB note: Articles whose titles specifically mention public diplomacy:
  • Soft Power and public diplomacy in Latin America: A view from Argentina
  • Beyond the rot: Cities and the future of public diplomacy
  • Challenges in measuring public diplomacy
  • Practical advice from the USC Center on Public Diplomacy

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