Diplomacia corporativa, la política exterior de la empresa

Corporate diplomacy, the foreign policy of the business


11 | 05 | 2022


The author defines business diplomacy as "the instrumental development of the strategy of business in its relations with public and private authorities".

In the picture

Book cover of Juan Luis Manfredi's book, 'Diplomacia corporativa. La nueva inteligencia directiva' (Barcelona: publishing house UOC, 2018) 220 pp.

The internationalization of the business, first, and the growing complexity of public and private international actors that we have witnessed since then, make corporate or business diplomacy a discipline to be kept in mind in the activity of companies. Juan Luis Manfredi, who has already delved into questions of public diplomacy, delves in this book into another sphere of diplomacy, this time directed and exercised from the private business .

goal In addition to traditional diplomacy, the government's task is public diplomacy, understood as "the set of information, Education and entertainment actions aimed at influencing foreign public opinion" (something led by the government, although to be effective, partnership public and private). The public authorities are also responsible for economic diplomacy, conceived as the support that the State's missions abroad should provide to internalisation actions decided by companies. Corporate diplomacy, on the other hand, falls entirely within the scope of private initiative.

Manfredi defines it as "the instrumental development of the strategy of business in its relations with public and private authorities". A specialist in global public affairs in general, the corporate diplomat's mission statement consists of "accompanying" the company's top manager or CEO in decision-making in the field of International Office, in such a way that "he or she acts as a sherpa of international reality as an analyst and strategist".

Manfredi's book is a catalyst for the growing attention that business, especially the internationalised one, is paying to its external action. This is a growing literature: other authors have also echoed the importance of the 'ad extra' relationship of business (not only outside national borders, but outside the company's walls), in its link with the environment, facing political and geopolitical risks with non-market elements. The management of uncertainty, not only in emerging economies but also in developed economies, has become a priority. train To this end, Manfredi insists, managers need to be trained in professional competencies, skills, knowledge and attitudes in order to successfully solve the tasks assigned to them in the execution of external activity.

The objectives of business in this external action are to preserve the security and independence of its business, the protection of its assets and the promotion of its interests. And it pursues them through the employment use of diplomatic tools. This overlaps to a large extent with the function that business generally refers to as public affairs, which for some may have a broader significance. However, although at some point Manfredi seems to think of an activity very parallel to what would be traditional government diplomacy (but with business as the subject instead of the state), in reality he identifies both disciplines - business diplomacy and public affairs - and attributes the same techniques to them: emphasis on the regulatory task and the elaboration of risk, stakeholder and network maps, creating relationships with third parties with the aim of establishing common frameworks for work and building trust. And this is not only the monitoring of legislative activity, but also in the development of preventive action that contributes to reducing risks or conflicts with the public administration.

Related to all this is also reputation. "Corporate diplomacy is a young professional activity that integrates the ability to influence with the management of reputation", says Manfredi, for whom "good reputation is the path to influence".

In addition to reputation and influence, corporate diplomacy is also aimed at highlighting the legitimacy of the existence and activity of business, which is derived from the exercise of social responsibility.

The book contains a chapter on think-tanks, which it presents as "institutions that generate knowledge through applied research , halfway between academia and the political arena". This is an interesting contribution, given the scant bibliography of original production on Spanish that exists on subject. Think-tanks are "mediation spaces for elites from academia, politics, business, journalism and the diplomatic world". The advantage of these entities lies in their flexibility, which allows them to "break away from academic standards - quality agencies, conferences or journals -to connect with both public opinion and policy makers".

The failure of certain international transactions, especially those involving mergers or acquisitions, reveals that managers lacked adequate information, not only of an economic nature, but also of a cross-cultural nature.