Week 2: Do you think PD is too hampered by organizational and institutional contexts? What would fix this? A more robust domestic constituency? Better leadership? Better legislation?

Public Diplomacy is in essence a nation-state based approach to building international communication and relationships. State institutions and organizations are hence difficult to be taken out of the picture of PD, as they are the main actors in initializing PD efforts. As Kiehl points out, “…it is the message, not the messenger, that is key” in PD; however the message is usually produced by an organization or institution who is managing and funding whatever PD takes place anywhere in the world.

A hampered PD as a result of organizational and institutional context might be similar to any public service, in terms of creating a program in the midst of budget constraints, political incentives and public agenda. The ACPD report has enumerated a list of areas for improvement regarding this issue. Their findings suggest the improvement of funding streams of US public diplomacy, based on the effectiveness of programs, as well as broadening the spectrum in some areas, while contracting funding in less effective areas. The main idea behind the ACPD recommendations lies in the difficulty of measuring PD results. The goal of PD is sustainability in relationship building among different global actors, and it suggests commitment. In their findings the ACPD report emphasizes the higher effectiveness of long-term commitment and programs (such as Fulbright), which are relatively hard to measure as they take rather long to be completed and show results. Institutions and organizations, especially in political contexts, often prefer more measurable goals, which are easier to justify financially and present as successful meeting of objectives.

Melissen on the other hand points out the “modern” ways of PD which have come along with the technological advances. In these times the importance of state actors and institutions is shared with many other organizations and civil actors across the globe. According to Melissen the world is not as divided (into nation-states) as it used to be, and PD has to adopt to these developments.

From the findings and recommendations of the ACPD report and Melissen, it is evident that an improved domestic constituency, better leadership and improved legislation are all crucial factors in improving the effectiveness and overall processes of PD, while adapting to fast-changing means of communication.

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One thought on “Week 2: Do you think PD is too hampered by organizational and institutional contexts? What would fix this? A more robust domestic constituency? Better leadership? Better legislation?

  1. I agree with the idea that state institutions and organizations are difficult to be taken out of the picture of public diplomacy, and public diplomacy is not too hampered by those contexts as they are the main actors in initializing a nation’s public diplomacy efforts. I also believed that institutional change should involved in public diplomacy as Institutional change transcends organizational change to focus on entire classes of organizations serving different societal functions (business, government, education, etc.) and how they are being transformed in response to a rapidly changing world. Unlike the “management” focus of organizational change – process design, teamwork, leadership, etc. – institutional change focuses on the underlying social rules or norms that define how these societal functions are structured and governed, which essentially helped a nation state in branding their soft power.

    Exactly as Wallin mentioned, “Public diplomacy and strategic communication should be understood as tools that must inform the policy making process. They can be used to collect information vital to crafting policy that achieves U.S. objectives, especially when the participation of foreign public is a mandatory factor in securing those objectives.”

    – Anqi.H

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