How can the Government employ soft power to maintain Britain's leadership role in international affairs?

The Institute for Government's work took account of the changing nature of global power and the resource challenges facing Britain's diplomatic infrastructure: the result was a composite index of soft power for 26 countries.

Created in partnership with Monocle magazine, the index aimed to establish a benchmark that assesses how Britain's soft power resources compare against those of the world's other major players.

The report, The New Persuaders:

  • identifies the trends that are making soft power strategies more relevant to Britain's foreign policy
  • ranks the soft power of 26 countries through a composite index combining objective and subjective measures
  • highlights the key soft power resources at the government’s disposal and suggests ways to use them effectively.

Findings

The IfG-Monocle Soft Power Index used a framework of five sub-indices and six subjective measures. The results of the index showed that, amomg  the world’s major players, Britain commands significant soft power resources :

Rank Country
1 France
1 UK
2 USA
3 Germany
4 Switzerland

 

But our publication warned that trimming back Britain’s diplomatic infrastructure will precipitate a fall in the UK’s global influence:

  • Soft power is much easier to lose than it is to gain.
  • Emerging powers are investing heavily in soft power and public diplomacy infrastructure.
  • The UK needs a clear narrative for Britain's global role and a more coordinated approach across Whitehall in leveraging soft power resources.

Methodology

The framework of the index is drawn from existing literature on soft power and public diplomacy, and calculated following a standard data normalisation methodology used for composite indices.