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A Global Ranking of Soft Power 2016

In June 2016, Portland launched our second Soft Power 30in collaboration with Facebook. Described as the ‘clearest picture of soft power to date’ by Professor Joe Nye, the report provides detailed insights into country’s soft power resources and how they are leveraged.

This year, the USA has beaten the UK to claim the top spot. The resurgence has coincided with the concerted push from the Obama Administration to strengthen international ties, as demonstrated by a string of diplomatic initiatives, illustrating the strategic value soft power has in today’s foreign policy environment.

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

Justin Trudeau

“Real power means you can get what you want without having to exert violence” Barack Obama

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 75 metrics across six sub-indices of objective data and seven categories of new international polling data.

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