Between Slogans and Solutions

A Frame-Based Assessment Methodology for Public Diplomacy

by Michael Egner

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Public diplomacy informs, influences and engages key international audiences to further the policy objectives of the USG. Current identified shortcomings in the practice of public diplomacy include: (1) a lack of coordinated research, (2) reliance on generic audience research rather than actionable data on the attitudes of specific targeted groups, and (3) performance metrics that are largely limited to process indicators and the evaluation of USG-sponsored programs. Taken together, this suggests an unmet need for a coordinated approach to design and measure targeted campaigns directed at mass audiences. The objective of this research is to create and carry out an alternative assessment methodology treating public diplomacy not as a series of discrete programs, but as a coordinated system of producing USG-preferred frames emphasizing or de-emphasizing specific elements of current or future U.S. policies. By tracking these frames – from their presence in media coverage, to their resonance among foreign publics, to their influence in driving overall policy support – this dissertation concludes that: (1) the significance of certain frames in driving policy support varies by country, and (2) political beliefs and political opinion leaders play a critical role in the ability of the U.S. to improve international public opinion. The implication is that a country-by-country messaging strategy relying on local advocates is superior to a uniform global campaign rooted in the messages of U.S. officials.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Background and Previous Research

  • Chapter Three

    Iraq: Baseline Target Audience Aanalysis

  • Chapter Four

    Iraq: Frames in Media Reporting

  • Chapter Five

    Iraq: Media Reporting and Frame Resonance

  • Chapter Six

    Iraq: Framing and Policy Support

  • Chapter Seven

    Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Definitions of Public Diplomacy

  • Appendix B

    Pew GAP Survey Details

  • Appendix C

    Full Model Results, Chapter 3

  • Appendix D

    Codebook

  • Appendix E

    Pile Sort Results

  • Appendix F

    Full Model Results, Chapter 5

  • Appendix G

    Full Model Results, Chapter 6

Research conducted by

This document was submitted as a dissertation in December 2009 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Eric Larson (Chair), Gery Ryan, and Bonnie Ghosh-Dastidar.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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