Advertisement

C-suite perspectives on corporate diplomacy as a component of public diplomacy

  • Kathy R. FitzpatrickEmail author
  • Candace L. White
  • Lindsey M. Bier
Original Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Corporate diplomacy Non-state actors in public diplomacy Public diplomacy National image Corporate communication 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The study was supported by an Arthur W. Page Legacy Scholars Grant. We are very grateful for this support.

References

  1. Amann, W., S. Khan, O. Salzmann, U. Steger, and A. Ionescu-Somers. 2001. Managing external pressures through corporate diplomacy. Journal of General Management 3: 33–50.Google Scholar
  2. Asquer, A. 2012. What is corporate diplomacy, and why does it matter? Journal of Multidisciplinary Research 4 (3): 53–63.Google Scholar
  3. Bolewski, W. 2017. Corporate diplomacy as symbiotic transnational governance. Working paper, Project Diplomacy in the 21st Century, German Institute for International and Security Affairs.Google Scholar
  4. Bolewski, W. 2018. Corporate diplomacy as global management. International Journal of diplomacy and Economy 4 (2): 107–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cull, N.J. 2008. The Cold War and the United States Information Agency: American propaganda and public diplomacy, 1945–1989. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cull, N.J. 2012. The decline and fall of the United States Information Agency: American public diplomacy, 1989–2001. New York, NY: Palgrave-Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. De Vries, J. 2014. Shedding light on business diplomacy: A systematic review on typology and its implications for MNC’s. 4th IBA Bachelor’s Thesis Conference, University of Twente, Enschede.Google Scholar
  8. Fitzpatrick, K. 2009. Privatized public diplomacy. In Toward a New Public Diplomacy: Redirecting US Foreign Policy, ed. P. Seib, 155–172. London: Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fitzpatrick, K. 2010. The future of U.S. public diplomacy: An uncertain fate. Leiden: Brill.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fort, T., and K. Rehbein. 2015. Enhancing the concept of corporate diplomacy: Encompassing political corporate social responsibility, international relations, and peace through commerce. Academy of Management Perspectives 29 (4): 387–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Frynas, J.G., and S. Stephens. 2015. Political corporate social responsibility: Reviewing theories and setting new agendas. International Journal of Management Reviews 17 (4): 483–509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gregory, B. 2005. Public diplomacy and strategic communication: Cultures, firewalls, and imported norms. Presentation at the American Political Science Association Conference on International Communication and Conflict, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  13. Gregory, B. 2008. Public diplomacy: Sunrise of an academic field. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 616: 274–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Henisz, W.J. 2016. The dynamic capability of corporate diplomacy. Global Strategy Journal 6: 183–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Herter, C.A. 1966. Corporate diplomacy in foreign countries. Vital Speeches of the Day 32 (13): 407–409.Google Scholar
  16. Jamali, D., and T. Keshishian. 2009. Uneasy alliances: Lessons learned from partnerships between business and NGOs in the context of CSR. Journal of Business Ethics 84 (2): 277–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kvale, S. 1996. InterViews: An introduction to qualitative research interviewing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  18. Kallio, H., A.M. Pietilä, M. Johnson, and M. Kangasniemi. 2016. Systematic methodological review: Developing a framework for a qualitative semi-structured interview guide. Journal of Advanced Nursing 72 (12): 2954–2965.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kamphof, R., and J. Melissen. 2017. Foreign ministries and SDG partnerships with the private sector. Working Paper, Diplomacy in the 21st Century. Berlin: German Institute for International and Security Affairs.Google Scholar
  20. Kesteleyn, J., S. Riordan, and H. Ruël. 2014. Introduction: Business diplomacy. Hague Journal of Diplomacy 9: 303–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kochhar, S.K., and J.-C. Molleda. 2015. The evolving links between international public relations and corporate diplomacy. In International public relations and public diplomacy: Communication and engagement, ed. G. Golan, S.-U. Yang, and D.F. Kinsey, 51–71. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  22. Lee, G., and K. Ayhan. 2015. Why do we need non-state actors in public diplomacy? Theoretical discussion of relational, networked and collaborative public diplomacy. Journal of International and Area Studies 22 (1): 57–77.Google Scholar
  23. McCracken, G. 1988. The long interview. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Miles, M.B., A.M. Huberman, and J. Saldaña. 2014. Qualitative data analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  25. Mogensen, K. 2017. From public relations to corporate public diplomacy. Public Relations Review 43: 605–614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Muldoon, J.P. 2005. The diplomacy of business. Diplomacy and Statecraft 16: 341–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Nye Jr., J.S. 2011. The future of soft power: Its changing nature and use in the twenty-first century. New York: Public Affairs.Google Scholar
  28. Ordeix-Rigo, E., and J. Duarte. 2009. From public diplomacy to corporate diplomacy: Increasing corporation’s legitimacy and influence. American Behavioral Scientist 53: 549–564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Reinhard, K. 2009. American business and its role in public diplomacy. In Routledge handbook of public diplomacy, ed. N. Snow and P.M. Taylor, 195–200. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Riordan, S. 2004. The new diplomacy. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  31. Ruël, H., and T. Wolters. 2016. Business diplomacy. In The Sage handbook of diplomacy, ed. C.M. Constantinou, P. Kerr, and P. Sharp, 564–576. Los Angeles: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Saner, R., and L. Yiu. 2003. International economic diplomacy: Mutations in post-modern times. Discussion papers in diplomacy, Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael.’.Google Scholar
  33. Scherer, A.G., and G. Palazzo. 2011. The new political role of business in a globalized world: A review of a new perspective on CSR and its implications for the firm, governance, and democracy. Journal of Management Studies 48 (4): 899–931.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Small, J.M. 2014. Business diplomacy in practice: Advancing interests in crisis situations. Hague Journal of Diplomacy 9: 374–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Snow Jr., C. 2006. Public diplomacy practitioners: A changing cast of characters. Journal of Business Strategy 27: 18–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Steger, U. 2003. Corporate diplomacy: The strategy for a volatile, fragmented business environment. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  37. Tam, L., and S. Kim. 2017. Nationalism and international disputes in China. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication 27: 246–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wang, J. 2006. Public diplomacy and global business. Journal of Business Strategy 27: 41–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Westermann-Behaylo, M.K., K. Rehbein, and T. Fort. 2015. Enhancing the concept of corporate diplomacy: Encompassing political corporate social responsibility, international relations, and peace through commerce. Academy of Management Perspectives 29 (4): 387–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. White, C.L. 2012. Brands and national image: An exploration of inverse country-of-origin effect. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 8 (2): 110–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. White, C.L. 2015. Exploring the role of private-sector corporations in public diplomacy. Public Relations Inquiry 4 (3): 305–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. White, C.L., and K.R. Fitzpatrick. 2018. Corporate perspectives on the role of global public relations in public diplomacy. Public Relations Journal 11 (4): 313–331.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathy R. Fitzpatrick
    • 1
    Email author
  • Candace L. White
    • 2
  • Lindsey M. Bier
    • 3
  1. 1.American UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  3. 3.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations