C-suite perspectives on corporate diplomacy as a component of public diplomacy
This study explored the concept and practice of corporate diplomacy from the perspective of multinational corporate communication executives. It sought to assess corporate views on, and motivations for, engaging in diplomatic activities abroad and to gauge levels of interest among corporate leaders in participating in government-sponsored public diplomacy activities aimed at advancing national goals and interests. Semi-structured interviews with corporate communication executives revealed a lack of familiarity with the concept of corporate diplomacy and the types of activities corporate diplomacy might entail. While recognizing reciprocal impacts of company and country of origin images and reputations, communication officers, especially those representing corporations with the United States as the home country, expressed little interest in engaging in efforts to promote national culture and values among foreign publics, and they did not perceive an obligation to actively support government efforts in public diplomacy. Rather, corporate communication activities abroad are motivated primarily by economic self-interest perceived to be advanced through the creation of global—rather than national—corporate identities and brands and the development of supportive host-country operating environments. However, the interviews identified the potential for state and non-state corporate actors to work together through collaborations on issue-oriented diplomatic initiatives that serve common goals.
KeywordsCorporate diplomacy Non-state actors in public diplomacy Public diplomacy National image Corporate communication
The study was supported by an Arthur W. Page Legacy Scholars Grant. We are very grateful for this support.
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