The Soft Power 30

Welcome to
The Soft Power 30
A Ranking of Global Soft Power

What is Soft Power?

Power in international relations has traditionally been defined and assessed in easily quantifiable ‘hard’ terms, often understood in the context of military and economic might. Hard power is deployed in the form of coercion, using force, the threat of force, economic sanctions, or inducements of payment.

In contrast to the coercive nature of hard power, soft power describes the use of positive attraction and persuasion to achieve foreign policy objectives.

Soft power eschews the traditional foreign policy implements of carrot and stick, seeking instead to alter the preferences of others by building coalitions, communicating compelling narratives, establishing international norms, and drawing on the resources that endear one country to another.

In short, “hard power is push; soft power is pull”

Joseph Nye, the originator of the term, initially set out three primary sources of soft power as he developed the concept. Nye’s three pillars of soft power are political values, culture, and foreign policy. But within these three categories, the individual sources of soft power are manifold and varied.

Our index builds on those three pillars and draws on metrics from a total of six categories:

Engagement

The strength of a country’s diplomatic network and its contribution to global engagement and development

Culture

The global reach and appeal of a nation’s cultural outputs, both pop-culture and high-culture

Government

Commitment to freedom, human rights, and democracy, and the quality of political institutions

Education

The level of human capital in a country, contribution to scholarship, and attractiveness to international students

Digital

A country’s digital infrastructure and its capabilities in digital diplomacy

Enterprise

The attractiveness of a country’s economic model, business friendliness, and capacity for innovation

Polling

We polled over 7,000 PEOPLE in twenty countries covering each region of the globe.

The Top 10

# COUNTRY SCORE
1. UNITED KINGDOM 75.61
2. GERMANY 73.89
3. UNITED STATES 73.68
4. FRANCE 73.64
5. CANADA 71.71
6. AUSTRALIA 68.92
7. SWITZERLAND 67.52
8. JAPAN 66.86
9. SWEDEN 66.49
10. NETHERLANDS 65.21

FIND OUT MORE

This index was created by Portland, in association with Facebook and ComRes.

To read our findings in full, download our report.

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Welcome to
The Soft Power 30
A Ranking of Global Soft Power

The distribution of global power is rapidly evolving, precipitating far-reaching economic and political changes affecting nations of every size and standing. Economic and political power is shifting from West to East. At the same time, it is moving away from governments, as non-state actors take a larger role in shaping world events. The digital revolution is further accelerating the diffusion of power. More and more of the world is playing out online, which provides new opportunities for influence, but also results in greater complexity for states as the global stage becomes more crowded.

Governments must adapt their approaches to foreign policy accordingly. Public and digital diplomacy, networks, collaboration, and the construction of international norms are now the most effective tools to drive global change and solve international problems.

In this new and evolving context, soft power – the ability to achieve objectives through attraction, and persuasion – is ever more crucial to the effective conduct of foreign policy and ultimately shaping global events.

But using soft power is impossible without a clear understanding of the resources that underpin it.

This index – the world’s most comprehensive assessment and comparison of global soft power – aims to bring new clarity and understanding to the soft power resources of the world’s major nations.

Download the full press release here.

What is Soft Power?

Power in international relations has traditionally been defined and assessed in easily quantifiable ‘hard’ terms, often understood in the context of military and economic might. Hard power is deployed in the form of coercion: using force, the threat of force, economic sanctions, or inducements of payment.

In contrast to the coercive nature of hard power, soft power describes the use of positive attraction and persuasion to achieve foreign policy objectives.

Soft power shuns the traditional foreign policy tools of carrot and stick, seeking instead to achieve influence by building networks, communicating compelling narratives, establishing international rules, and drawing on the resources that make a country naturally attractive to the world.

In short, “hard power is push; soft power is pull”

Joseph Nye, the originator of the concept, initially set out three primary sources of soft power as he developed the concept. Nye’s three pillars of soft power are political values, culture, and foreign policy. But within these three categories, the individual sources of soft power are manifold and varied.

Our index builds on those three pillars, using over 65 metrics across six sub-indices of objective data and seven categories of new international polling data: