Theories of InfluenceJune 3, 2011
I’ve been thinking about the range of theories of influence at work in the Public Diplomacy field so I was interested to see that Organizational Research Services, a Washington state evaluation consultancy, have put out a briefing note Pathways to Change: 6 Theories of Policy Change. They identify three theories of the policy change ( punctuated equilibrium, advocacy coalition and policy windows) and three theories about advocacy (messaging and framing, power politics and community organizing). This is part of the movement to improve advocacy and its evaluation by making the underpinning theory of change explicit.
It wouldn’t take long to come up with a much longer list of theories. The thought occurs though that one useful exercise for public diplomacy research would be to catalogue the theories of influence at work in the field. We’ve got ideas from academic communications research, applied communication – PR and marketing, international relations, political psychology etc the point is not just to list them but to look at the assumptions about the world and the extent to which these theories are simply expressing the same ideas in different ways. This would help to bridge the gap between comms and IR and manage the incoherence of soft power arguments.