From Crawling to Walking: Progress in Evaluating the Effectiveness of Public Diplomacy (Lessons Learned from NATO)

Principal Investigator:
Barbora Maronkova, CPD Research Fellow 2015-17

Contributing Researcher:
Amanda Lester 

Assessment and evaluation of public diplomacy remains an undeveloped study area. Governments, institutions and international organizations continue to struggle in defining the right approach to evaluate the impact of their programs on their audiences.

In the period of budget cuts, ongoing evolution of public diplomacy and ever greater number of influencers, the practitioners of public diplomacy are urged to demonstrate the impact of their programs in order to secure funding and sway public opinion. Knowing and understanding whether or not the public diplomacy programs actually make a difference are key in a world where contradicting narratives, disinformation and propaganda are gaining presence and traction with citizens.

This research aims to provide an insight into how NATO designed and implemented assessment and evaluation of its public diplomacy programs. An Alliance of 28 nations with a very specific mandate to provide peace and security, NATO is not an ordinary organization. It decided in 2012 to re-evaluate its approach to public diplomacy and to introduce an effective assessment and evaluation process that would help to better plan activities and budget allocations to increase the effectiveness of its outputs towards the 28 NATO member nations.

From crawling to walking; progress in evaluating the effectiveness of public diplomacy. Lessons learned from NATO is set to share with the wider public diplomacy community the work undertaken by NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division in past three years in setting up its own measurement and evaluation processes and to offer recommendations to other international organizations and national institutions into a more effective measurement and evaluation. We believe that by evaluating our work and sharing the best practices, we contribute to a better understanding of this fairly complex issue.