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More Questions on Resource Allocation

February 11, 2011

I’ve just spotted Candace Burnham’s post on jazz in American Public Diplomacy over at Mountainrunner.  I’ll make a comment about jazz later but this triggered a thought that went off in another direction.

One of the posts on this blog that gets the most hits is this one about the issues of resource allocation in public diplomacy.  I have to confess that I still haven’t got around to really trying to answer the questions for myself.  Despite this here is a little exercise.

If you have 100 units of resource to support PD how do you allocate it?

What fraction do you give to posts and how much to your keep centrally?

What fraction do you allocate to broadcasting?  What fraction do you allocate to digital diplomacy? What goes to supporting exchange of persons?  What about cultural exchanges?  What about different types of cultural exchange (the connection back to jazz)?

The pattern of resource allocation will vary across countries of different size, for instance countries with a smaller level of resources probably won’t devote money to broadcasting because of the fixed costs of the infrastructure.

[There’s also the more constructivist point of what counts as a resource.  Some countries (eg France) are much less squeamish about seeing aid as a PD resource that a country like the UK.]

I think that this sort of exercise in valuable in two ways.  Firstly, different patterns of resource allocation might give a shorthand way of identifying different ways of thinking about PD in different countries.  Secondly, within institutions the normal pattern of budget allocation is what you got last year plus or minus x%.  If you start from your hundred units of resource can you justify they way that you allocate your budget? or is your budget divided on the basis of institutional inertia?

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