Diplomats and Diplomacy for the 21st Century

by Gustav Lindstrom

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For the diplomat of the 21st century, success hinges on proficiency in a multitude of areas and familiarity with a variety of technological tools. Today's diplomats also require strong teamwork skills to collaborate with other groups, such as humanitarian organizations operating in the same host country. The U.S. Department of State currently uses 13 dimensions, covering a wide area of competencies, to gauge the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of prospective applicants. The department has recently added a quantitative skills requirement, but technology competencies are not yet part of the dimensions. A comparative analysis of human resource (HR) requirements among public, private, and nonprofit organizations with international missions reveals that State competes for similar sets of individuals. In many areas, its practices also lag those of the Defense Department and other federal agencies, and it is facing an uphill struggle to recruit highly qualified individuals with sought-after characteristics. The study recommends creating an integrated HR strategy, speeding up the recruitment process (e.g., by widening chokepoints in the clearance process), and boosting retention programs.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Background and Policy Context

  • Chapter Two

    Conceptual Framework

  • Chapter Three

    Review of Previous Research

  • Chapter Four

    What Kinds of Competencies are Needed in a Globalized World?

  • Chapter Five

    What are State Department Human Resource Needs?

  • Chapter Six

    How Valued are Attributes Critical for Success Within State?

  • Chapter Seven

    Recruitment at State

  • Chapter Eight

    Retention Issues at State

  • Chapter Nine

  • Appendix A

    NPR/OPM Sampled agencies (2000)

  • Appendix B

    State Department Cones

Research conducted by

This document was prepared as a dissertation in September 2002 in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Policy Analysis at the RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Ian Lesser (Chair), Greg Treverton, and Tora Bikson.

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