Soft Power Effectiveness: Problem of Evaluation

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2015-6-48-58

E. Kharitonova, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation (

Abstract. The article focuses on the task of measuring and evaluating a state's soft power. While the soft power concept developed by Joseph Nye is currently widely accepted and used, its theoretical understanding and practical application remains challenging. Both international relations scholars and those responsible for soft power in governmental and non-state agencies are looking for the tools to assess their work and the country's standing in the world in terms of soft power. As the author of the concept and other researchers noted, evaluation and measurement may be difficult due to the number of influencing factors including the use of hard power that can overshadow soft power efforts, and also because soft power efforts can bring results only in a distant period of time. However, in response to the researchers' and policy makers' need to evaluate, measure and compare soft power related parameters, a number of international ratings evolved during the past several years, such as various ratings of soft power, nation brands, countries' reputation and presence. At the same time, such rankings have several weaknesses. First of all, they present mainly the western point of view which focuses on the parameters important for western audiences and may overlook characteristics important for other, non-western cultures. They also may be subjective due to financial reasons. Besides that, while some of the ratings aim to evaluate resources or assets of nations' soft power, other focus on results like influence or reputation. Evaluation of instruments used to enhance a country's soft power and their effectiveness is also important. In many cases, even significant resources of soft power do not guarantee strong positions in this context. Comparing certain countries' positions in different ratings helps to understand a country's standing in terms of soft power, identify strong sides and analyze whether a state's soft power potential transforms into the desired outcomes.

Keywords: soft power, foreign policy appraisal, international soft power ratings, soft power evaluation, think tanks, Joseph Nye, (re)branding, IMEMO

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For citation:
Kharitonova E. Soft Power Effectiveness: Problem of Evaluation. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2015, no. 6, pp. 48-58.

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