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Rapid-growth markets soft power index:Soft power defined - EY - Global

Rapid-growth markets soft power index

Soft power defined

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The combination of rising soft and hard power will give many emerging market countries considerably more influencing power.

Everyone is familiar with the concept of hard power. Hard power is the military and economic might a nation state uses to obtain what it wants from other political bodies.

However, countries can sometimes obtain the outcomes they want without tangible threats or payoffs. This indirect method has sometimes been called “the second face of power” or soft power.

At its core, soft power rests on the ability to shape the preferences of others. The ability of a nation to influence others tends to be associated with intangible assets such as an attractive personality, culture, political values and institutions and policies that are seen as legitimate or having moral authority.

Several recent trends have made the deployment and use of soft power even more critical.

The first has been the recent economic surge of the emerging market (EM) economies. After decades of boom and bust cycles, the EM economies have enjoyed an enormous growth advantage over the countries in the developed market (DM) since the turn of the century.

While the EM growth story before the turn of the century had largely been a Chinese phenomenon, economic growth since then has been steady and broad based, incorporating most EM regions (Central and Latin America, Eastern Europe, MENA, South and East Asia and even
sub-Saharan Africa).

The rise in EM hard power over this decade has been dramatic.

Based on the World Bank’s World Development Indicators (WDI), in 2000, the emerging world accounted for 20% of global GDP but, by 2010, this figure had risen to 32% as well as 44.8% by Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). Over the same period, its share of world trade rose from 8% to 20%, while its share of global equity market capitalization rose from 7% to 30%.

One of the crucial questions that first arises is whether soft power in the emerging world has risen commensurately with its hard power during the past decade. If so, has it reached levels where some of the EM economies can now challenge those of the developed world?

If it has, the combination of rising soft and hard power will give many EM countries considerably more influencing power in obtaining what they want in the coming years.

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Rapid-growth markets soft power index: Spring 2012


  • Sandra Sasson
    Marketing & Communications Director,
    Emerging Markets Center
    +30 210 2886 032

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