The shift in soft power toward the developing world may be faster than anyone has anticipated.
The RGMs will need to emulate the West in many respects to accumulate soft power commensurate with their hard power in the coming years and decades.
The “civil society” that permeates the West, but is often lacking in much of the emerging world, can only be developed by strengthening a country’s institutions and rule of law. Corruption will have to be tackled sooner rather than later.
Improving the quality of education is also critical because it is the factor that eventually impacts upon many of the soft power variables discussed in this paper. Increasing the number of Most admired companies as well as their ranking in terms of the Tourism variable, will also play a key role in the success of RGMs.
These transitions will obviously prove challenging, but if those EMs that need to reform merely maintain the status quo, they risk reducing their global prestige and influence, despite the rapid ascendancy of hard power.
That said, the soft power balance has the potential to change more rapidly in the coming years than it has in the past. A continuation of the political gridlock and anemic economic growth that currently characterizes the US and Europe would eventually take its toll on the world’s desire to emulate Western institutions, openness and cultural attributes.
In short, today’s economic and political environments are fluid. If the decline of the West is rapid and absolute, rather than slow and relative, the shift in soft power toward the developing world may be faster than anyone has anticipated.