What Is the Power of Balancing Power? Exploring Perceived Discrepancy in Relational Power and Its Effects

Lisa Tam, Soojin Kim


Ideally, public diplomacy is expected to facilitate mutually beneficial interactions between state and nonstate entities in different countries. In diplomacy relationships, however, countries often seek unilateral influence over other countries instead of balancing power with them. To date, there is a lack of research on publics’ perceptions of such relational power dynamics between countries. Thus, this study introduces a new construct, perceived power discrepancy, as individuals’ evaluations of the extent of discrepancy between two countries in terms of how they act and communicate to balance power with each other in their relationship. An online survey among Australian citizens was conducted in 2017 (N = 511) regarding the U.S.–Australian relationship. The findings showed that perceived power discrepancy has positive associations with perceived economic threat and that this threat is positively associated with consumer ethnocentrism. Consumer ethnocentrism is positively associated with two behavioral variables: negative word-of-mouth intention and boycott intention toward products from a counterpart country.


boycott intention, consumer ethnocentrism, perceived economic threat, perceived power discrepancy, relational power, word-of-mouth

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