V&A Dundee
V&A Museum Dundee

British Council Scotland has launched a new report entitled Gauging International Perceptions: Scotland and Soft Power. The report provides a clear snapshot of Scotland’s soft power assets alongside ideas for how these can be enhanced and utilised.

The report was produced by Jonathan McClory of Portland, who produce the Soft Power 30, the annual ranking of the countries with the most influential soft power in the world.

What is soft power?

Soft Power builds a country or a region's attractiveness and influence through culture, public diplomacy and positive global contribution.

Countries, regions and cities around the world are using soft power to improve international relations and bolster trade and tourism.

How was the research done?

Objective data

Data about Scotland’s' government, use of digital technology, culture, enterprise, international engagement and education was compared to that of nine other countries/regions: Wales, Northern Ireland, Catalonia, Flanders, Quebec, Corsica, Puerto Rica, Hokkaido in Japan and Jeju in North Korea.

International Polling

Opinions about Scotland and the nine other regions were also gathered from 5,000 people in Canada, China, United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Qatar and the US.

Key Findings

  • Scotland ranks second overall in the review of ten regions around the world and their soft power influence
  • Scotland’s greatest soft power resources include Education, Enterprise and Digital - where it ranks first
  • The report concludes that Education is clearly the ‘crown-jewel’ in Scotland’s array of soft power assets and can be the cornerstone for international campaigns.

The report shows that while Scotland is widely recognised as being a leader in Education, Innovation, and Digital sectors, it also shows there is work needed to bolster international perceptions.


  • Increase international perceptions with focussed campaigns targeting a set of priority countries;
  • Enable Scotland’s city administrations to grow their own international networks through cross-border partnerships, organisations and sister-city agreements with cities in other countries
  • Increase International engagement by encouraging more countries to open consulates-general in Scotland.
  • Scotland can harness global awareness about its world-leading stance on environmental issues and developing innovation in green energy projects.

Download our report below to find out more about the concept of soft power and how the world sees Scotland.