Strategic Dimensions of Public Diplomacy

Authored by: Martin Löffelholz , Claudia Auer , Alice Srugies

The Routledge Handbook of Strategic Communication

Print publication date:  November  2014
Online publication date:  November  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415530019
eBook ISBN: 9780203094440
Adobe ISBN: 9781136207129


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The question “How strategic is public diplomacy?” is seldom posed in public diplomacy literature. Instead, academic studies take the strategic alignment of public diplomacy activities to be a natural condition for the success of a nation’s public diplomacy. Only a few researchers dare to identify concrete strategic dimensions of public diplomacy. This leads to four characteristic interpretations of the correlation between public diplomacy and strategic communication. Some authors see public diplomacy and strategic communication as analogous concepts; others see them as distinct concepts; still others see either strategic communication or public diplomacy as the overarching concept (e.g., Gregory, 2005; Wimbush, n.d.; Deutsch, 2010; Hayden, 2010; Leonard, Stead, and Smewing, 2002; Nye, 2004; Tatham, 2008; Department of Defense, 2004; Taylor, 2009; van Dyke & Vercˇicˇ, 2009; Pamment, 2009). The conflicting opinions demonstrate that a theoretical grounding of public diplomacy, strategy, and strategic communication needs to be accomplished. The goal of this chapter is therefore to provide a new theoretical perspective on the relations between strategic communication and public diplomacy. In order to create such a theoretical basis, we will first review the state of research on public diplomacy. That section will conclude with a definition of the concept that reflects the broad areas of agreement. Then, we will consider the research on strategy and strategic communication. Based on that, we will identify the strategic dimension of public diplomacy. In the next step, this dimension will be used to review case studies of public diplomacy in different countries and regions (selected according to their respective relationships to the research) to evaluate to what extent public diplomacy is conducted strategically in practice.

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