Diplomacy and International Governance – Enhancing Practice Through Innovation in Theory and Analysis

Submitting Institution

Loughborough University

Unit of Assessment

Area Studies

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration, Political Science

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Summary of the impact

The impact arises from high quality analysis and evaluation of governance practices — ]especially those linked to diplomacy at the national, European and international levels. It centres on research carried out by Professor Brian Hocking at Loughborough University between 2005 and 2013, which has produced important studies of change and innovation in diplomatic process. These projects have involved close contact with diplomats and other government/EU officials, as well as dissemination to civil society organisations and students in a variety of contexts, and they have been influential in shaping debates about the future of diplomacy and training of diplomats in the EU, Australia and Canada particularly.

Underpinning research

The underpinning research was carried out at Loughborough University by Professor Brian Hocking (Professor 2005-2010; Emeritus Professor 2010 and onwards), building on research carried out in earlier periods and within the context of the Centre for the Study of International Governance (CSIG). The key findings of this research lie in three interrelated areas:

1) National diplomatic structures in the EU: This is an on-going project (2000-2013) focusing on the impact of European integration on EU Member State foreign ministries. Major findings relate to: a) organisational adaptation as Member States redefine the concept of foreign policy in response to enhanced EU integration; b) changed role definitions as national diplomats develop behavioural narratives rooted in policy coordination as distinct from a traditional `gatekeeper' role; c) the changing concept of diplomatic representation within the EU as defined by the functions of intra-EU embassies. [3.1; 3.2; 3.4]

(2) Worlds Apart? Exploring the Interface between Governance and Diplomacy': In this project Professor Hocking acted as UK Convenor of a large multi-national project. The broad aim of the project was to critically examine global governance theorising and to reformulate basic concepts of diplomacy in the light of its changing processes and structures. The project linked Loughborough University with the Centre for International Governance Innovation (Canada) and the Asia Pacific Centre for Diplomacy (ANU, Canberra). Outputs included three major conferences in each country involving policy practitioners and academics, a series of policy papers and an edited book (Cooper, Hocking and Maley 2008). Its major conceptual contribution has been to link traditionally separated academic discourses focused on globalisation and diplomatic studies. Key findings related to the changing character of diplomacy, especially the rise of `network diplomacy' and `multi-stakeholder' diplomacy in the period since the end of the Cold War. [3.3]

(2) Change and Innovation in Diplomacy in which Professor Hocking was Principal Investigator in a project funded by the Canadian Government. Major findings from this work have been the changing character of `national diplomatic systems' the changing role of foreign ministries within them, the rise of networked diplomacy, `soft power' and the deployment of public diplomacy strategies by government agencies. The core of the project involved extensive investigation of change within the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. This has resulted in more focused work on the deployment of public diplomacy strategies in UK Government specifically with the Cabinet Office and the FCO `Engagement' project. This work in turn led to the project `Futures for Diplomacy', spanning 2011-2012, in which Professor Hocking was engaged with the Clingendael Institute in The Hague on research funded by the Finnish Foreign Ministry, centering on the changing structures and processes of diplomacy and their implications for the organisation of foreign ministries. Amongst the key findings of this phase has been the confusion within Ministries of Foreign Affairs when it comes to implementing network strategies in diplomacy and the need to clearly articulate the role of the 21st century diplomat in the light of conflicting objectives. [3.1; 3.5; 3.6]

References to the research

3.1 Hocking, B. and Smith, M. (2011) `An Emerging Diplomatic System for the European Union: Frameworks and Issues' Cuadernos Europeos de Deusto 44, pp. 19-42. ISSN: 1130-8354. (Substantial lead article in an international journal).

3.2 Hocking, B. and Spence, D. (eds) (2005) Foreign Ministries in the European Union: Integrating Diplomats. 2nd edition, Basingstoke: Palgrave/Macmillan. ISBN: 13:978-14039-9775-3 (Significant collection which has been widely cited in subsequent studies of diplomacy in the EU).

3.3 Cooper, A.F, Hocking, B. and Maley, W. (eds) (2008) Global Governance and Diplomacy: Worlds Apart? Basingstoke: Palgrave/Macmillan. ISBN: 13: 978-0-230-21059-2.
(Important international collection bringing together academics and practitioners from a variety of international settings).

3.4 Hocking, B and Batora, J.(2009), EU-Oriented Bilateralism: Evaluating the Role of Member State Embassies in the European Union', Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 22(1), 163-182, ISSN 0955-7571. DOI: 10.1080/09557570802683938


3.5 Hocking, B. (2005) `Rethinking the `new' public diplomacy' in Melissen, J. (ed.) The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 13:978-1-4039-4516-7. (Regarded as a major contribution to the conceptualisation of public diplomacy strategies. The book has been translated into three languages.)


3.6 Hocking B. (2012) `The ministry of foreign affairs and the national diplomatic system', in P. Kerr and G Wiseman (eds), Diplomacy in a Globalizing World: Theories and Practices, New York, Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-976448-8. (Redefines the debate on international policy governance through the concept of the `national diplomatic system'.)

Key Grants

Dates Role Title Funder Amount
2005-08 Hocking [PI] Innovative Representation in a Changing Diplomatic Environment British Academy £7.5K
2005-08 Hocking [PI] Change and innovation in Diplomacy: The Canadian and United States Experiences Canadian Government (Sustained Studies in Contemporary Canadian Issues) £20K

Details of the impact

The reach of the research impacts created by this work lies in a number of areas,, where it has influenced and informed policy debate. First, there is the creation of networks involving EU and non-EU academics, officials, diplomats at international and national levels, and Non-Governmental Organisation representatives. In the case of the work on diplomatic innovation, this took the form of collaboration with the UK, Canadian, Finnish and Australian Ministries of Foreign Affairs and with a range of academic institutions [such as the Asia Pacific College of Diplomacy (Australian National University, Canberra] of whose international advisory board Professor Hocking is a member] and think tanks [5.2, 5.3, 5.4]. Between 2005 and 2008, Professor Hocking was invited to address meetings at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) in Ottawa attended by a DFAIT and other government official and representatives of civil society groups [5.2]. At the EU level, a series of meetings on the changing role of foreign ministries were held in Brussels, Paris and London convened by DG-Relex/European External Action Service. Second, there is knowledge transfer through workshops, policy papers, reports and policy recommendations to a variety of official and non-governmental audiences. On the public diplomacy agenda, a major forum for disseminating information has been a series of three conferences held at Wilton Park (the Foreign and Commonwealth Office conference centre) sponsored by the FCO and attended by some 150 diplomats from around the world together with meetings convened at the Institute of Government by the Cabinet Office and FCO on the uses of `soft power' in UK diplomacy [5.1]. BH assisted in the organisation of these meetings and gave presentations at them [5.7]. Third, the Futures for Diplomacy: Integrative Diplomacy in the 21st Century report has now been released by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is available on the Clingendael Institute (The Hague) website where it has registered `hits' placing it in the top five of the institute's major reports. A major meeting of 45 policy planners from foreign ministries and international organisations was held in The Hague in March 2013 and has been followed by the first of a series of policy papers (The Future of Foreign Ministries) on the changing nature of diplomacy [5.3]. Further meetings are planned and are being discussed with national foreign ministries — ]such as the South Korean and Swedish Ministries of Foreign Affairs. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Foreign Affairs University are convening a conference in Beijing in November 2013 to discuss the Futures report. Fourth, key issues relating to the research have been communicated to a broader audience through op-ed articles and media presentations. Thus, for example, when BH was advising the Australian Senate Foreign Affairs Committee enquiry into Australian public diplomacy (Canberra 2007) he was asked to write an article [`Diplomacy adopts a new style', Canberra Times, 28 May 2007] and this was followed by interviews on news programmes. Similarly, the Futures report has been followed by op-ed articles in the China Daily, Japan Times and Korea Herald.

The significance of the impact can be measured in part by continuing requests from foreign ministries for briefings on change in diplomatic structures. Current work is in progress with the FCO [e.g.Counterpoint 2020 - 5.6], and has been undertaken with the Dutch [5.5] and Swedish MFAs. The explicit focus here is on policy innovation especially in terms of diplomatic institutions, personnel and practices — ]particularly in the public diplomacy area. Much of this work represents the application of scholarly research to the demands of policy makers in new and changing environments. As section 5 indicates, this is evidenced by: (i) the commissioning of reports and briefings by, foreign ministries — ]for example, the Finnish Foreign Ministry and the FCO and Cabinet Office in the UK [5.3, 5.4, 5.6, 5.7]; (ii) Work with UK Cabinet Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Australian Government on the ways in which `soft power' resources might be enhanced [5.1, 5.7]; (iii) Enhancement of debate on diplomatic processes globally and in the European Union specifically, especially the European External, Action Service (EEAS); (iv) Incorporation into diplomatic training activities at European and broader international levels [5.8, 5.9]. For example: College of Europe (Bruges), Clingendael Institute (Netherlands), Geneva Centre for Security Policy and a number of diplomatic academies (BH is a member of the International Forum for Deans and Directors of Diplomatic Academies and was chair of the UK section 2004-7). The research has thus contributed significantly to enhancement of policy debate among the diplomatic and related communities, and has helped to shape the responses of diplomats and diplomatic organisations to a changing global environment.

Sources to corroborate the impact

The following sources of corroboration can be made available at request.

5.1 `Reconfiguring Public Diplomacy: From Competition to Collaboration' in J.Welsh and D. Fearn (eds) Engagement: Public Diplomacy in a Globalised World. London: Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2008. [Major output from work with the FCO's Public Diplomacy Unit. Referred to by several foreign ministries re-evaluating public diplomacy strategies]

5.2 `Change and innovation in Diplomacy'. Report submitted to Canadian Department of International Affairs and International Trade, 2008. [pdf copy.]

5.3 `Futures for Diplomacy'. Report for the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on current and future trends in diplomatic structures and processes (September 2012) (pdf copy).

5.4 Written endorsement (e-mail to BH 13 June 2013) by the Deputy Director of Policy Planning in the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

5.5 Endorsement by Jan Melissen, Clingendael Institute (the Hague) of BH's work for the `Wise Persons Group' on Reform of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

5.6 Work with the Counterpoint 2020 team at the FCO London and with the British Embassy in The Hague.

5.7 `Soft Power and the Information Domain: Project Plan.' PowerPoint Presentation August 2009. Foreign Policy Team, Strategy Unit, Cabinet Office [This is an output from meetings of the `Soft Power Working Group' of which BH was a member].

5.8 Invitation to engage in diplomatic training work for the Geneva Centre for Security Policy on diplomatic change and (letters and emails supplied).

5.9 Invitation to engage in diplomatic training work for the Diplomatic Academy of Armenia (College of Europe with EU Delegation to Armenia) (letters and emails supplied).