Mindhive Activity

What is happening in this Category

>

Robert Hale is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

>

Neha Deoliya is now contributing to a Challenge The MindHive Book

>

Cassandra Mardi is now contributing to a Challenge Designing a city wide electric vehicle charging network

>

Cassandra Mardi commented on the Challenge Designing a city wide electric vehicle charging network

To help with the growing and current lack of parking and parking not within close proximity to public transport (close to the cities), perhaps overhead rail station carparks with charging stations might be a solution.

>

Tom Orren is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

>

Tom Orren commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

There's a problem. Attempting to measure soft power smacks of wanting to manipulate it artificially for personal gain and, once that happens, it might lose any value it once had. People are very good at smelling self-interest.

In fact, the very basis of soft power may be a compete lack of self interest and a genuine desire to do good, and the best way to measure that may be by the actual good that is done for others - and the way it is done.

It's like measuring a mother's love. How would you measure that? By the words that they say? Partly? By how much they talk? Probably not. But definitely by the things that they do for their children, and the way they do them. Never manipulating, or forcing, but by guiding and wanting what is best for them as future, independent adults.

A country will never develop soft power unless it genuinely cares about its neighbours and actually does things to help them. It will not develop if nothing of consequence is done, or if it does things that contradict each other. For instance, giving an island neighbour $10 million for a school is all well and good but, if we don't recognise the dangers of global warming for island nations, it will achieve nothing.

Soft power has to be an all or nothing thing, a genuine commitment so, in a way, trying to measure it defeats the purpose. 

>

Penny Burns commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

Theo was a Colombo Plan student in 1964, and one of 7 honours students in Economics that year at the University of Adelaide. He graduated, returned to Singapore, rose rapidly in the ranks of the public service and always thought and acted very positively in support of Australia, its products and its people. That was soft power. We had it then. Fast forward 35 years and I am speaking with the Head of Engineering  and his Deputy at Singapore University.  The Deputy tells me that he took his degree at Monash, but then quicklly adds, “That was back then (i.e. the 1960s and early 1970s) when the quality was good. Today I would not send any of my students to Australia”.  That was 1999! Today it could be worse. I can see why there is now an interest in a new Colombo Plan, and the measurement of soft power. @Alexandra Wake mentions we also used to be a voice in our region with Radio Australia.  All gone now.  

But is nostalgia for our soft power of yesteryear a good enough reason for the deployment of public resources?     

And is Soft Power still the influence on government and business decisions that it used to be? The information now available through the Internet, not to mention opinion, probably now trumps soft power as a determinant of decisions.

If positioning Australia to be a partner of choice and persuasive voice in the Indo-Pacific region is what you are interested in, why not measure these things directly, rather than via an ambiguous and doubtful intermediary?  

Yes, it is pleasant when others speak well of us - and they do.  But what real difference does it make when it comes down to making political and commercial decisions (and today, political decisions are themselves increasingly commercial).  Consider Saudi Arabia and the death of the US journalist. I doubt Saudi Arabia would have much ‘soft power’ in the USA, but it isn’t affecting their influence!

However not only may Soft Power measures be less than valuable for the objectives you have in mind - it may be positively detrimental!

With any performance measure there can be a temptation to manipulate the measure rather than change the reality. So the design of the survey is critical and needs to have protection measures built in. Who would we survey?  What countries?  What age ranges? What employment sectors? It would be necessary to analyse each sub group separately and this would be more meaningful than an aggregate figure that could easily be manipulated by weighting. 

This is not to deny that Soft Power exists. But it probably cannot be ‘used’ to achieve predetermined results.  Take the TV series ‘Home and Away’.  It was compulsive watching in the UK, at times being broadcast twice a day. It may have been considered ‘low class’ by the educated elite here, but it encouraged courses in Australian literature to be given at UK universities which were heavily subscribed!   Who knew?  And so, who could have planned for this outcome?

Today what is known about Australia is more likely to be our immigration policies. Earning the goodwill of others is pretty simple, we don’t need an attitude survey to determine Soft Power, just follow the golden rule - do unto others what you would like them to do to you.  That is how we got our Soft Power 50 years ago.

So the question is: do you want a measure of ‘soft power’ that can be marketed as ‘Australia doing well’, or do you want to determine how we can do better?

>

Penny Burns is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

>

Penny Burns commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

Theo was a Colombo Plan student in 1964, and one of 7 honours students in Economics that year at the University of Adelaide. He graduated, returned to Singapore, rose rapidly in the ranks of the public service and always thought and acted very positively in support of Australia, its products and its people. That was soft power. We had it then. Fast forward 35 years and I am speaking with the Head of Engineering  and his Deputy at Singapore University.  The Deputy tells me that he took his degree at Monash, but then quicklly adds, “That was back then (i.e. the 1960s and early 1970s) when the quality was good. Today I would not send any of my students to Australia”.  That was 1999! Today it could be worse. I can see why there is now an interest in a new Colombo Plan, and the measurement of soft power. @Alexandra Wake mentions we also used to be a voice in our region with Radio Australia.  All gone now.  

But is nostalgia for our soft power of yesteryear a good enough reason for the deployment of public resources?     

And is Soft Power still the influence on government and business decisions that it used to be? The information now available through the Internet, not to mention opinion, probably now trumps soft power as a determinant of decisions.

If positioning Australia to be a partner of choice and persuasive voice in the Indo-Pacific region is what you are interested in, why not measure these things directly, rather than via an ambiguous and doubtful intermediary?  

Yes, it is pleasant when others speak well of us - and they do.  But what real difference does it make when it comes down to making political and commercial decisions (and today, political decisions are themselves increasingly commercial).  Consider Saudi Arabia and the death of the US journalist. I doubt Saudi Arabia would have much ‘soft power’ in the USA, but it isn’t affecting their influence!

However not only may Soft Power measures be less than valuable for the objectives you have in mind - it may be positively detrimental!

With any performance measure there can be a temptation to manipulate the measure rather than change the reality. So the design of the survey is critical and needs to have protection measures built in. Who would we survey?  What countries?  What age ranges? What employment sectors? It would be necessary to analyse each sub group separately and this would be more meaningful than an aggregate figure that could easily be manipulated by weighting. 

This is not to deny that Soft Power exists. But it probably cannot be ‘used’ to achieve predetermined results.  Take the TV series ‘Home and Away’.  It was compulsive watching in the UK, at times being broadcast twice a day. It may have been considered ‘low class’ by the educated elite here, but it encouraged courses in Australian literature to be given at UK universities which were heavily subscribed!   Who knew?  And so, who could have planned for this outcome?

Today what is known about Australia is more likely to be our immigration policies. Earning the goodwill of others is pretty simple, we don’t need an atitude survey to determine Soft Power, just follow the golden rule - do unto others what you would like them to do to you.  That is how we got our Soft Power 50 years ago.

So the question is: do you want a measure of ‘soft power’ that can be marketed as ‘Australia doing well’, or do you want to determine how we can do better?

>

Finn Robinsen is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

>

Finn Robinsen commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

Building Connections and Losing the Isolationism 

The Australian government has engaged actively on the subject of providing aid and development to our region. Although this creates the foundation for strong leadership in the Indo-Pacific, it lacks the recognition and subsequent support of Australians. 

If Australia is to truly embrace its regional leadership position, it must make efforts to mobilize non-government entities outwards and shed the public's isolationism. By creating connections through students, journalist, businesses, and tourists, Australia will gain influence and the potential for further cooperation with our neighboring island nations.

Australians themselves are our greatest soft power assets and by supporting initiatives like the New Colombo Plan, we build stronger links within the region. However, efforts back home are also needed to counteract the isolationist perspective of most Australians who think of our country as the only important state in the Pacific. Therefore, it is important to show Australians that our regional neighbors are not far off lands, but right next door and ready to be interacted with. 

>

Peter de Haan is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

>

Peter de Haan commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

"help us convert our general appeal and soft power assets into leadership and influence on issues of national and regional importance"

I do wonder about the underlying premise here. Does DFAT believe we have soft power and know how to acquire it, but their problem is in how to deploy it; or, is how to build soft power to build influence?

After reading the challenge, I could not help but wonder what the worldview was of the author(s) and whether it should be accepted?

Soft power and leadership are positively reinforcing concepts that continually need to energise each other to maximise effectiveness, and are often underpinned by share values, beliefs and commitments to building long term relationships. If the concepts underpinning soft power drift, it can quickly intermingle with concepts of coercion or demanding relationships, and the magic can quickly disappear. 

So soft power, is a complex and dynamic concept that should be expected to shift often, and the measurement of soft power can never be uniquely quantified, it will always be relative to the dynamics at play "at any point in time". The best analogy for soft power can best be understood on terms of the nature of the relationships, not just in how much you can influence the behaviours of others (which build resentment). Think of the soft power between adversaries, acquaintances, friends, family, lovers, and long term partners (commitment); none of these are fixed, if you take any for granted they will change into something else which you do not know/understand.

Another way to think about this. Opinions and thoughts about America, during the cold war, after the fall of the Soviet Union, 10 years after the fall, 20 years after the fall? Once upon a time everyone wanted to buy into the American dream, where is that now?

Next example, still on America; 9/11, the war on terror, invading Iraq, post Iraq and the ongoing polarisation of opinions... where are we now? How have the actions of America played into the narrative used by it's adversaries?

Who has not become more cynical about the USA's role in the world?

If we are trying to weaponise soft power, it can quickly turn into a slippery slope which could easily work against our national interests.

The dynamics of our region (and others) are complex and forever changing and not malleable to simplistic concepts of cause and effect or measurement. To which we can add layers of corruption, self interests, popular opinion, vocal minorities, majority opinions, fads/trends and interdependencies.

This is a complex adaptive system and should be handled with great care. 

>

Liz Reece commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

DFAT is seen via their Hi Commissions to have bags of money, by local people, some working in NGOs. To help this money speak more and provide more soft power, the projects need to get more "bang for their buck". Many projects are handed over to others to manage and the responsibility and outcomes are diluted. Hi Comm staff could be more engaged with projects and ensure all the spending in the country is connected up for greater good. Connection I mean through knowing a bit more about the content and quality of the outcomes, that will build the soft power. Having others do your wo and not engaging with each project restricts the conversion into soft power, restricts the building of soft power in that country . Being known for having money and being effective are two different things. DFAT, has a strong emphasis on marketing at the moment that could be in danger of overriding the quality of the work. Being seen to be "doing good" in a photo opportunity can be contrary to producing quality outcomes and certainly contrary to soft power building. Understanding the difference is so important. Soft power builds after the work is done. How different it is to marketing is what DFAT could benefit from knowing.

>

Muheeb Hoque is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

>

Muheeb Hoque commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

We must utilise our current strengths effectively in order to exert influence and developing deep soft power.

Soft power is an extremely effective tool to exert influence. Soft power is the ability to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction. A defining feature of soft power is that it is non-coercive; the currency of soft power is culture, political values, and foreign policies. 

Having taken this definition of soft power let us look at some countries around our region who are using this effectively.

  1. India – They are using culture as a currency by effectively utilising Bollywood as a tool to exert influence around their region. This is seen in all of India’s neighbouring countries as well as in the Middle East and African states where Bollywood films are popular. This is an effective strategy to develop relations using cultural exchange which lead to economic outcomes. As a result of this India attracts African students to their universities.
  2. South Korea – The South Koreans have also utilised soft power effectively. They have achieved this using their K-Pop & Music industry. According to a Washington Post reporter, the spread of South Korean entertainment has led to higher sales of other goods and services such as food, clothing, and Korean language Besides increasing the amount of exports, the Korean Wave is used by the government as a soft power tool to engage with the masses of young people all over the world and to try reduce anti-Korean sentiment.
  3. Germany - After World War II Germany has utilised soft power very effectively to raise its image and establish strong relationships. They have done this using education in the developing world and culture in the developed world. The German Academic Exchange Service grants scholarships to foreign students to study in Germany and also German citizens to study overseas. In regards to cultural influence in the developed world you now have Oktoberfest festivals all over. As a result of their effective use of soft power, today Germany has become equivalent to Oktoberfest & high performing medium sized manufacturing sector.

I used these three countries as an example because all three has lessons for Australia. Other nations like USA, UK & China use soft power but in the Australian context I believe we must look at countries who are using soft power effectively in their regions first.

The three countries mentioned above have all played to their strengths. Germany is using their established education and manufacturing institutions, South Korea and India are using their entertainment industries. 

Like them we in Australia must use in the short term our established sectors & long term develop new ones. My proposal to the Australian government would be the following:

  1. Education & Training – Australia is already a global leader in international education. Therefore, we must utilise this effectively by engaging with our international Alumni network and turning them into our Ambassadors. We can do this using grants and special projects. Also, mobilising our international student Alumni settled in Australia who have the relevant skills to open doors and establish connections with their countries of origin. We can do this by establishing a working group with identified Alumni and undertaking projects as a first step. We can also utilise our capability in developing high calibre education institutions and offer our services to develop other countries institutions as well. This would allow us to create jobs for Australians as well as in the host nation.
  2. Sports & Culture – In Australia not only are we mad about sports but are excelling in them. Australia must begin to host more regional tournaments, teams and also training facilities. This will tie together with our education & training arm of soft power. Therefore, utilising our established institutions effectively to exert influence.

In the long term we must use our Media organisations effectively in order to exert influence by creating more regional focused programs, documentaries and dramas.

I believe these will place Australia as a leader in our region and we could become the gateway to enter the pacific and Asian regions for trade and relations for all European, African and American nations.

An effective tool to measure progress would be for the Education sector number of newly established overseas institutions and also progress of the working group and projects with a return on investment.

In the sporting sector we can do this by looking at the number hosted athletes and tournaments and then measuring this with a study on the on Tourism and Education spend/jobs created in Australia as a result of our activities.   

>

Finn Robinsen commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

Couldn't agree more!
Australia is a role model in the Indo-Pacific as a healthy and free democracy. By supporting journalists, Australia aids in the development of a more reliable and freer press in neighboring countries and creates networks with influential individuals capable of shaping Australia's reputation in the region. 

Sounds like a win win to me. 

>

Finn Robinsen commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

E-learning is an amazing tool which is improving the quality of education in Australia! This being said, the sector is still quite young and the infrastructure for its widespread use is still being developed. 

Nevertheless, exporting these tools has the potential to vastly improve the capabilities of schools in the Indo-pacific, and would only increase the standing of Australia as a leader in the eyes of the up and coming generations!

The only major issues that come to mind are language barriers and lacking technological skills or infrastructure. 

>

Vibhor Pandey is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

>

Vibhor Pandey commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

Soft Power: 

Nation’s soft-power contains several building blocks for example popularity of the cuisine, presence of radio frequencies, satellites in the sky, number of multinational companies headquartered, political stability, equality, inequality, political equanimity, science and technology, Nobel prize winners, international book award winners, treatment of its own people, number of research papers written by researchers, success of communities outside of the country, number of movies produced, number of visits on Tourism Australia, and our university websites, and several other factors. 

To measure the soft power is never been easy - a few organisations have tried to quantify it however only a handful few can rightly estimate or derive a try index of soft power. In Joseph Nye’s definition soft-power is a country’s influence by attraction or persuasion, not coercion or payment. TD;LR soft-power is everything other than military and GNI/ FDI. So, back to the key question - how do we measure this complex characteristic? 

The answer is not straight and it is not impossible. However, it has to be longitudinal database containing a number of factors with characteristics regressed to a single index - regression or a principal component analysis (a statistics procedure) because it will tell us what contributes to the Soft Power index and what interventions do we need to maintain or amplify it. 

A possible solution: Soft Power Experience Management Tool, it is not a ranking 

5 Things we should measure 

  1. Tech Diplomacy (#policies, #startups, $investment, #research, $Govt funding, #Open Data project etc)
  2. Social Media Listening / Digital observatory (a sentiment analysis of #Auspol - Political leader’s social dynamics, corporates and big brands’ social presence and support of the common cause, and magnitude of their interaction with the community, sport players and their stance, digital activism and its effectiveness etc)
  3. Digital Governance (Governments presence an capabilities in digital transformation, tech companies and govt collaboration, strength and policy reforms on cyber security and privacy etc)
  4. Attractions (Migration, International students, Screen productions, etc)
  5. Connectedness (exports, interaction with expats community, role and importance of the embassy, interaction between researchers, academia or universities, travel and number of flights, ect) 

Data collection and Methodology - most of the data is available by international institutions like World Bank, and other UN bodies. A majority of the nation’s dataset is also available by Australian government agencies, and publicly available reports for meta-analysis. 

--

Best case examples of measuring the soft-power. 

Toward quantifying soft power: the impact of the proliferation of information technology on governance in the Middle East

https://www.nature.com/articles/palcomms201716

 

A theory of soft power and Korea's soft power strategy

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10163270902913962

http://www.kiep.go.kr/cmm/fms/FileDown.do;jsessionid=fPzmMmvXuuIVXqZEGymspvvB6hC4ESLUBmu2drPEQp7XmHiBgsMS5ujQwV1Y9V7D.KIEPWEB_NEW_servlet_engine4?atchFileId=00000000000001828170&fileSn=10&bbsId=seminarReports

 

And for reference, Australia’s Soft Power review in 2018 by DFAT

https://dfat.gov.au/people-to-people/soft-power-review/Pages/soft-power-review.aspx

>

Shane Dillon is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

>

Shane Dillon commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

One of the greatest and least utilized soft power communities Australia has is in their International Student Alumni. Known in many regions of Asia as "Sea Turtles" these are students who have spent considerable time (and money) pursuing an education in Australia who have returned home after graduation for employment. 

 

I founded the International Alumni Job Network (IAJN) in 2016 and we have now had over 200,000+ international student alumni register with our communities across Asia. 

 

We see a huge demand from alumni to stay engaged with Australia. 

 

 

 

>

MindHive commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

Definition and Measurement

I would suggest that DFAT think in terms of an ecosystem.  The ecosystem being the  network of actors  (business, people, government, NGOs, NFPs ) who are operating in the region.  These actors all depend on each  other for their success and survival.  This ecosystem has mutual dependence of actors - ie trade comes from relationships and relatedness and generally this comes from activities like Aid, joint ventures, friendship, cultural exchanges, good neighbour actions, mutuality - which can all be described as social capital.  
 
I would also recommend thinking  and setting strategies in terms of social capital rather than soft power as particularly in our region the impact of colonialism has left a residue of negativity around the word power as this normally means power over and loss of sovereignty.  Social capital is a better and more inclusive way to frame what I think DFAT means by soft power. 
 
If we think in terms of ecosystem, we could  do some interesting modelling of the interactions Australia and Australians have in the region.  This would me like a crowd map, so that we start to have more hard data and visibility of what is going on rather than just views  or partial sight of what is going on.  For example we could model/crowd map the diaspora of Australia, linking it to companies they work in and roles in overseas corporations, the activities of Australian businesses overseas, aid flows, export flows,  NGO flows, cultural exchanges, import flows, capital inflows, capital outflows, trade missions, embassies, DFAT and Austrade activities etc - all overlaid with relevant geo political data.  We would then start to see where we were under invested and over invested and take actions accordingly.  These actions could be highlighted to the actors in the ecosystem beyond Government. Over a time series we could see the positive and negative impacts of actors and actions as well as identify the actions and actors that are creating the most value for the network and eco system of Australia and its role in the region.  Ultimately  we all share the fate of the network as a whole as social capital paves the way for exchanges that cover fiscal value and security.   By thinking in terms of an ecosystem we can think in terms of network effects and more intelligently plan, strategise and implement good actions. Measuring in this way would also give ability to do predictive analysis of countries and specific regions.  Even basic analysis of this sort would have, as an example, highlighted the loss of influence in the Pacific in a proactive way rather than taken us by surprise.
 
There is also an emerging body of academic work researching and suggesting how the health of business eco systems can be measured.  I suggest that this work could be adapted for DFAT purposes.  Australia has some good data scientists and data firms that are leading the world, we can use these skills to benefit the nation. 
 
Comments on other questions
 
In regard to the other questions posed in the challenge, which I have not answered, here are my responses:
  • What practical steps can Australia take to position itself as a partner of choice and persuasive voice in the Indo-Pacific region?
 
We need to think and act long term, which means have strategies that are bi partisan and not subject to domestic adversarial politics.  We are dealing in a region that values long term relationships and good neighbours so cheap political point scoring needs to be avoided as what is at stake is value for not just current but future Australian generations.

  • What new, non-traditional or more effective partnerships should the Australian Government explore to ensure it engages a more diverse range of stakeholders?
 
If the Government takes on board the eco system thinking and approach they will be able to see easily where there are either missing actors, or actors where more effort and attention should be given. 
 
A Question to DFAT
 
The Challenge comments on Australian Soft Power assets.  What are they in the view of DFAT?  It would be good to have a definition of what is considered such an asset.
 
Examples of Recommended Reading that would need to be adapted for social capital purposes:
There are numerous books and articles but examples of recommended reading are:
Measuring Shared Value
Winning in Digital Eco Systems

 

>

Daniel Park is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

>

Daniel Park commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

I've no real idea about measuring soft power but on the social media side you could probably head for a PR firm and then get them to have a look at the Australia "brand" and go from there.

One possible avenue for increase soft power could be to issue youth working holday visas for people in the pacific.

>

Brant Tate is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

>

Brant Tate commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

Influence is the power to effect change. Power comes in two flavors: the “power of control” and the “power of care”.

Control makes things happen in a top-down hierarchy, and motivates through challenge and fear. Care supports from beneath, and motivates through help and empathy.

If you want to measure these things, imagine a pair of Cartesian axes:

- The X-axis is the familiar control axis (positive, to the right, represents more challenge / fear); and

- The Y-axis is the care axis (positive, and upwards, represents more help / support).

The goal is to focus on actions that are both high-challenge and high-support; avoid those that are high in only one. Low-challenge and low-support is an obvious waste of investment.

Rank each initiative relative to one another, on these axes. Use a scale of eudaimonics rather than economics.

Good luck! The world desperately needs success in this space.

>

Stephen Grey is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

>

Stephen Grey commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

Social attitudes and behaviour are a complex system. Any assertion that certain characteristics are important is valid but only in the context of the moment and person making the assertion. We cannot assume anything an individual claims matters will have general relevance.

 

To gain an understanding of Australia's ties with and influence on the rest of the world, I would opt for something like this http://cognitive-edge.com/scans/culturescan/ which is designed to provide a sense of the attitudes of personnel within a company or public sector organisation from their veiwpoint rather than in terms of the way they fit an externally defined template.

>

Stephen Grey commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

On a quick look through the method description on https://softpower30.com I can see that it might offer useful information. I have some reservations about the entrenchment of an index concocted by one group of people, no matter how smart and well meaning they are, as a de facto standard. It stops people thinking outside the framework of that index and, especially in a world with such rapidly shifting social dynamics, useful insights may well be missed because we become blinkered by the measurement scheme.

 

 
Show More Category Activity ▼

Law and regulations are the building blocks of a coherent society. These frameworks influence each one of us without exception. With tremendous potential to create a fair society, legal and regualatory policies require an element of substantial public endorsement. MindHive, as a crowdsourcing platform, is a public vehicle that brings Government, Universities, Business and the broader community into one digital room. Through the MindHive platform effective policymaking, is empowered by the depth of the discussion, encompassing the views of each diverse and individual contributor.

How should Australia’s law and regulatory policies and strategy be defined? How to ensure the effectiveness of our nation’s law and regulatory environment? What are the solutions to current and recurring shortcomings?

Discuss. Analyse. Exchange. Learn. Inform

Join MindHive discussions and be an active contributor to Australia’s policymaking initiatives; help optimum resources channeled towards law and regulatory initiatives.

The major Challenges

Are you sure you want to do this?