V&A Dundee
V&A Museum Dundee

Our report  Gauging International Perceptions: Scotland and Soft Power provides a clear snapshot of Scotland’s soft power assets and offers suggestions on how they can be enhanced and utilised. Produced by Jonathan McClory of Portland, the company behind the Soft Power 30 annual ranking of countries with the most influential soft power in the world, the report is the first of its kind to focus solely on Scotland's soft power.

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 Rico, Hokkaido in Japan and Jeju in South 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
  • Education is 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 the 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 the report below to find out more about the concept of soft power and how the world sees Scotland.