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New Perspectives: An Evaluation Toolbox for Cultural Diplomacy

CPD Research Fellow and Head of Evidence for the Arts at the British Council Ian Thomas outlines an integrated, long-term evaluation toolbox in the latest edition of CPD Perspectives on Public Diplomacy.

"Building an Impact Evaluation Toolbox based on an Arts and Soft Power Ecosystem" features a new conceptual framework that allows public diplomacy practitioners to better measure the impact of soft power and public diplomacy activities. Thomas argues that practitioners view soft power not as a linear process, but as an ecosystem with multiple feedback loops in which the exchange of ideas, people and culture have impacts both within and outside the ecosystem. He hopes to provide an overarching soft power measurement framework to bridge the gap between the quality of data available to public diplomacy practitioners and the effective use of this data in policy implementation and practice.

"Evaluation practices are increasingly drawing on ‘systems thinking’ in order to attend carefully to complex circumstances and to judge the value of interventions," writes Thomas. "New tools are allowing evaluators to better describe and analyse the system boundaries, interrelationships and perspectives involved in complex situations."

Thomas concludes that for soft power evaluation methods to move forward, organizations, scholars and practitioners must pool together "resources and methodology while sharing understanding to aid in the long-term measurement of soft power."

Download the latest edition of CPD Perspectives here.


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