Incorporating Research Design in Public Diplomacy: The Role of Listening to Foreign Publics
Research design involves a set of decisions regarding what or who will be studied and the procedures in acquiring and analyzing information. In this article, we apply lessons from research design to public diplomacy, a field focused on engaging with foreign publics. Much prior scholarship sheds light on what PD is and its programs, but less attention has been given to the role of listening to understand what foreign publics think and believe. We propose three interrelated recommendations to improve the quality of implementing PD programs. First, before any program is implemented, we need to correctly identify a perceived issue that requires a program. Once we confirm if the issue exists, we also need to understand why it exists. Second, designing PD programs with clear goals increases the effectiveness of the program and the ability to confirm its success. This requires designing programs unique to each case. Third, public opinion data should be collected at several points—taking advantage of time—to confirm the effectiveness of programs. Our recommendations are particularly valuable for policy makers.