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New Comparative Study on Diplomats and Communications Technology

September 1, 2010

One of the themes that runs through discussions of PD is the need for comparative research something that seems to easier to talk about than actually do.  As a result it’s worth flagging up a new paper that Cristina Archetti is presenting at APSA in Washington this week.  This is based on interviews with diplomats posted to London from 14  countries (Australia,  Canada, Brazil, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, Greece, India Japan,  Malta, Russia, Sweden, Syria and the US).  She’s looking at the media that they used to make sense of what’s going on in the UK and how they try and get attention. This is a preliminary study but there are a stack of interesting findings and hypotheses.

  • The adoption of technologies such as facebook and twitter is inversely proportional to the ability to get the attention of policymakers and the mainstream media.  The Australian or Indian High Commission doesn’t need to do much on this front.  On the other hand the Greek Embassy has to work hard.  The US is the major outlier – embracing technology even though it has unlimited access to policymakers.
  • Some of the diplomats are quite happy about the way that the media environment allows them to spend less time writing reports.  Because their ministries can follow UK events via the internet embassies don’t have put as much effort into producing media summaries.
  • One of the most interesting aspects of the study is the question that is raised about the nature of the post in shaping diplomatic work.  In the interviews the diplomats are asked to compare London to other posts that they have served in and some of the responses are really interesting.  For instance because they feel that the UK media does a good job of covering what is going on in UK politics they don’t need to spend so much time trying to build up their own picture.  Also the size and complexity of London tends to reduce the coherence of diplomatic community.
  • As always  – resources matter
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One comment

  1. […] Live in Washington September 3, 2010 Cristina is going to be presenting the paper on diplomats and communications that I linked to earlier in the week on Saturday afternoon in the Embassy Room in the Hilton at […]



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