Cover: Rebuilding the Supply Chain of Foreign-Affairs Leaders

Rebuilding the Supply Chain of Foreign-Affairs Leaders

Published 2003

by Paul C. Light

Download Free Electronic Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

The United States is fighting the war on terrorism on many fronts, at home and abroad, on the battlefield and at the negotiating table, and through a dense thicket of public, private, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental partnerships. It must have leaders who bring talent, creativity, judgment, and courage to the task. Unfortunately, September 11 revealed significant weaknesses throughout the "supply chain" of talented foreign affairs leaders. This paper addresses the question, How can the nation's educational institutions add value as these future leaders pass through their training? The paper finds that government, businesses, and nonprofit organizations share a common need for leaders with general cognitive strengths such as problem solving and analytical ability; strong interpersonal and relationship skills, tolerance for ambiguity, and adaptability; and personal traits such as character, self-reliance, and dependability. To address these common needs, the paper suggests the following: o The first step in rebuilding the supply chain of foreign affairs leaders is to reject the one-career-fits-all approach. o The second step in embracing the new foreign affairs service is to work with colleges and universities to break down the stovepipes that characterize contemporary education. o The third step is to give current members of the foreign affairs service access to the kind of training and development experience needed for reacting to new foreign policy issues.

This report is part of the RAND issue paper series. The issue paper was a product of RAND from 1993 to 2003 that contained early data analysis, an informed perspective on a topic, or a discussion of research directions, not necessarily based on published research. The issue paper was meant to be a vehicle for quick dissemination intended to stimulate discussion in a policy community.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.