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Scholarly Articles

Transnational policy entrepreneurs and the cultivation of influence: individuals, organizations and their networks

Diane Stone

The ‘policy entrepreneur’ concept arises from the Multiple Streams’ theory of agenda setting in Policy Studies. Through conceptual stretching’, the concept is extended to global policy dynamics. Unlike ‘advocacy networks’ and ‘norm entrepreneurs’, the discussion addresses the strategies of ‘insider’ or ‘near-governmental’ non-state actors. The analysis advances the policy entrepreneur concept in three directions. First, the discussion develops the transnational dimensions of this activity through a case study of International Crisis Group. Second, rather than focusing on charismatic individuals, the discussion emphasizes the importance of organizational resources and reputations for policy entrepreneurship and access into international policy communities. Organizations maintain momentum behind policy solutions and pressures for change over the long term when individuals retire or depart for other positions. Third, the discussion outlines four distinct entrepreneur strategies and techniques that both individuals and organizations cultivate and deploy to enhance their power and persuasion in global policy processes and politics.

Advance diaspora diplomacy in a networked world

Diane Stone

The role of diaspora in cultural exchange, international affairs and in economic development is now well established. What is new is the increasing proliferation of national strategies to harness them actively for public diplomacy. This article addresses the rise of Australia’s only formal, global diaspora network: Advance – Australia’s Global Community which has acted self-consciously to become an instrument of public diplomacy. Emerging from a small base in New York, Advance sought to ‘open doors’ for Australians in the world’s biggest market. Cultivating a strong membership base of well-connected individuals in the arts, commerce and professions, Advance developed its network centrality by building partnerships with state governments, Australian universities and federal government agencies. As an elite organisation of high-profile Australians overseas, Advance has developed into a global organisation communicating Australian culture and economic achievements to both Australian national audiences and foreign constituencies. 

Negotiated Health Diplomacy: A Case Study of the EU and Central Asia

​Neil Collins, Kristina Bekenova & Ainur Kagarmanova


In the soft-power context, health is increasingly seen as an area that generates particular diplomatic benefits, because it is ostensibly non-political and can bring both immediate and long-term advantages to the donor and the recipient country equally. The endeavours of individual member states of the European Union (EU) and the input of the EU itself in Central Asia are examined to see the extent to which the initiatives in health-related areas form part of a wider diplomatic strategy and whether their effectiveness is related to the means by which the planned improved health outcomes are achieved. This article seeks to draw lessons from the European experience to increase understanding of the role of health in global diplomacy.

Science diplomacy and transnational governance impact

​Timothy Legrand & Diane Stone

Science diplomacy is coming to the fore as a formidable dimension of interstate power relations. As the challenges of the world increasingly transcend borders, so too have researchers and innovators forged international coalitions to resolve global pathologies. In doing so, new channels of influence and opportunity have opened up for states alongside the ‘traditional’ modes of foreign diplomacy. This article advances understanding of the domains of science diplomacy by drawing attention to the ‘political intercostalities’ of state actors, scientific communities and other transnational actors within the new architectures of global governance. Here we trace the growing array of informal international associations alongside transgovernmental policy networks and ‘global public-policy partnerships’ that deal with highly specialised and technical matters of international policy and how they are drawn into science diplomacy. This article thus presents a research agenda for a particular mode of ‘impact’ in politics and international studies.

Digital Diplomacy: Success at your fingertips

Neil Collins & Kristina Bekenova

It is claimed that digital diplomacy will radically change how diplomats engage with the populace in the countries to which they are stationed. Facebook in particular is seen as a means by which embassies can speak to sections of the local population that have previously been difficult to engage. The European Union has signalled its intent to embrace social media more purposefully and meaningfully as part of its diplomatic effort. This article examines those claims made for digital diplomacy relying on data that show the patterns of use of Facebook by European embassies in Kazakhstan. The results show that, primarily, Facebook’s features are used for one-way communication of banal and routine information. However, little policy dialogue is evident.

Exploring the Future of Innovation Diplomacy

Jos Leijten

Science diplomacy links the two policy domains of foreign affairs and science policy. Competitive thinking and the ways in which this affects global challenges are now putting the globalisation trends in science, technology and innovation under pressure. Rising populism adds to the growth of de-globalisation politics. In an increasingly knowledge driven world, this leads to changes in the roles of diplomats. Their focus has already shifted from relatively neutral scientific collaborations to the technology and innovation interests of their home-countries. What are likely future developments of the field of science, technology and innovation diplomacy? The paper explores the future roles and development of innovation diplomacy as the outcome of interactions between the evolving characteristics of science, technology and innovation on the one hand and of international relations and foreign policies on the other. It is explorative, because there is no research tradition on which it can build and requires bringing together insights from several disciplines in new combinations. Trends in the fields of science, technology and innovation and in the field of international relations (including changes in the mechanisms and institutions for global governance) will be discussed. Together, these drivers provide a framework through which potential futures of innovation diplomacy can be explored.

Strengthening the Relationship between Science and Trade Policy in the European Union

Riccardo Trobbiani 


The EU faces evolving environmental, social, health, economic, and political challenges, including attaining the UN Sustainable Development Goals to which the EU has committed, such as clean water and climate action. Trade policy is an important tool for addressing these challenges, as well as a field in which the EU enjoys exclusive competence and extensive experience. Because many of these challenges require innovative scientific and technological solutions, this article argues that S&I should receive more attention within EU trade policy, and vice versa. In addition to discussing the current neglect in the EU between S&I and bilateral and multilateral trade policies, this work explores three areas that reveal the importance of the trade-S&I relationship: the definition of technical standards; protection of intellectual property (IP); and support for science-based solutions to global challenges. The article concludes with solutions that support and harness the links between trade and S&I to help the EU leverage its trade power and achieve objectives beyond simple economic advantage.

Bad Science: International organizations and the indirect power of global benchmarking

Andre Broome, Alexandra Homolar & Matthias Kranke

This article illustrates how international organization benchmarking is a significant source of indirect power in world politics by examining two prominent cases in which international organizations seek to shape the world through comparative metrics. We argue that the legitimacy attached to these benchmarks because of the expertise of the international organizations that produce them is highly problematic and that the ways in which international organizations use benchmarking to orient how political actors understand best practices, advocate policy changes and attribute political responsibility thus constitutes ‘bad science’. Extending research on processes of paradigm maintenance and the influence of international organizations as teachers of norms or judges of norm compliance, we show how the indirect power that international organizations exercise as evaluators of relative national performance through benchmarking can be highly consequential for the definition of states’ policy priorities.

European cultural diplomacy: diaspora relations with Kazakhstan

Neil Collins & Kristina Bekenova

Cultural diplomacy using diasporic communities as facilitators of interaction between states has long been important. This article suggests a typology of networks of communication derived from a case study of long-established diasporas living in post-independence Kazakhstan and their relationship with their European ‘homelands’. The typology juxtaposes the official stance of homeland governments expressed in formal and legal provisions with the lived experience of the diaspora communities. The study highlights the benefits of developing vibrant ‘valued’ networks of communication embracing both local diasporas and homeland embassies and agencies. In such cases, diplomatic benefits accrue to the homeland and local communities are empowered. Similarly, failing to capitalise on positive sentiment with some infrastructural support may leave an ‘expressive’ network as one of neglected potential.

Understanding the transfer of policy failure: bricolage, experimentalism and translation

Diane Stone

This article re-assesses the literature on policy transfer and diffusion in light of what constitutes failure or limited success. First, it looks at imperfect, incomplete or uninformed transfer processes. Second, it addresses the concept of 'negative lesson-drawing' as well as the role of interlocutors who complicate policy transfer processes. Third, the idea of 'transfer' as a neat linear transmission of an intact policy approach is criticised by drawing attention to hybridity, synthesis, adaptation and 'localisation'. Finally, policy 'translation' is a better conceptual framework for comprehending the learning and policy innovations that come with the trial and error inherent in policymaking. The final version of the article can be found here.

Global Science Diplomacy for Multilateralism 2.0

Luk Van Langenhove

This article, published in Science & Diplomacy, a quarterly publication from the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy, claims that the S&T community not only has the potential to play a significant role in addressing global problems, but they can also be the change agent that strengthens the policy-science nexus at the global level of governance.

Neil Collins & Kristina Bekenova

This article looks at the “New Great Game” as the most widely used metaphor for the geopolitical dynamics of Central Asia. Its focus is on Kazakhstan and Europe with particular reference to energy policies. The European approach to Kazakhstan is conditioned by its energy security priorities with issues of democracy and human rights relegated to the margins. For Kazakhstan, the article suggests that the game is played with an eye to regime legitimacy, territorial integrity, and international recognition. Relations between Kazakhstan, China and Russia are also examined. Some of the limitations and strengths of the Great Game metaphor are analysed.

Reading Brand Africa Geopolitically: Nation-Branding, Subaltern Geopolitics and the Persistence of Politics

Christopher S. Browning & Antonio Ferraz de Oliveira

In 2010, the ‘Brand Africa’ initiative was launched with the mission to transform perceptions of Africa from a continent of calamities into one of promising economic prospects and entrepreneurial populations. In this respect, Brand Africa can be interpreted as a form of subaltern geopolitics seeking to subvert dominant geopolitical knowledge and to fight established structures of domination. However, the article argues its subversive elements are limited, especially when compared to the historical discourses of decolonial pan-Africanism upon which it draws for legitimacy. Indeed, while appropriating this legacy Brand Africa offers up a very different geopolitical vision of possible/desirable African futures. The article also highlights that the emancipatory potential and assumed synergies between national and supranational branding central to the Brand Africa initiative are not as unproblematic or uncontested as claimed.

Introduction: Nation Branding and Competitive Identity in World Politics

Christopher S. Browning & Antonio Ferraz de Oliveira

To date, (critical) geopolitics has had little to say about contemporary competitive identity practices of nation branding in global politics, while existing analyses of nation branding in other disciplines have tended to overlook its geopolitical dimensions. This expanded Introduction (and the special section as a whole) therefore seeks to explore some of the implications of nation branding for geopolitics, while simultaneously utilising the insights of critical geopolitics to shed light on nation branding practices. The Introduction makes the case for a broad conception of nation branding that challenges claims it is immutably linked to capitalist logics in an era of globalisation. It subsequently explores claims that nation branding is simply an updated form of nation building and that it is also an inherently benign and peace promoting activity. The Introduction ends by highlighting how, despite claims that the contemporary prevalence of nation branding practices is indicative of a categorical shift from a geopolitical to a geoeconomic world, nation branding practices frequently remain deeply infused with rather traditional geopolitical scripts.

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