people gathered around a table wearing suits

Mat Wright

What is the opportunity?

We and our UK funders and partners seek to understand how the UK’s cultural relations/soft power infrastructure compares with other countries’.

We are commissioning a review of publicly available information to collect further data, and analyse what this means for the UK.

This will inform our strategy and plans for the future and should cover our structures, governance, level of public investment, and activities.

The research should focus on the UK and at least six other case-study countries. It should allow our organisation and its stakeholders to:

  • better understand the motivations, opportunities and constraints that inform countries' approaches to cultural relations/soft power
  • get an objective view of who is doing well, badly, where and why
  • identify who the UK might learn from, and who might be potential partners as well as competitors
  • use this to inform our organisational strategy and the thinking of our stakeholders and partners
  • better explain the different channels for cultural relations and why they matter in international relations
  • articulate the rationale for our own model and license to operate in the context of a range of analogue organisations.

Study objectives

Focus countries for this study should cover a range of fully state-controlled to fully privately funded/directed models and should include a minimum of seven states, including the UK itself.

Possible states to include in the study are Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the USA.

However, we will be led by the availability of comparable data and are open to alternative suggestions, where these are based on analysis of the available sources and evidence against our identified areas of comparison, as set out below.

  • We envisage that the research and analysis would include the following key elements:
  • A review of academic literature and data as well as grey literature and data sources (including our publications available online). The review should also identify gaps in the literature and datasets currently available.
  • Identification and use of publicly available datasets which can be used for comparative analysis of the size/scale and nature of cultural relations organisations’ international infrastructure, activities and impact (or proxies).
  • Gathering of data from online/published official documents by relevant governments and institutions on the historical origins, structures, governance, operating models and funding of other countries cultural relations/cultural diplomacy/soft power instrument(s).
  • Data requests/interviews (phone/virtual only) to access data from head quarter organisations of key countries included in the comparison (as necessary).
  • Interviews (up to 25) with British Council staff and stakeholders in key countries.
  • Outline of each comparison country’s approach and profile and comparative (quantitative and qualitative) and analysis of  the effect of this.

     The comparison should focus on the number and nature of internationally-facing cultural relations organisations, their stated mission, their international presence, their operating model, level of investment of income, their efficiency, any change in investment over time.

  • A comparison of the relative strengths and limitations of the different models, compared to the that of the UK.
  • Identification of the implications for the UK, the government and related administrations, and our work (e.g. as a SWOT analysis).
  • A report which lays out clearly the profiles, comparison, analysis of key findings and conclusions/implications. The headings and structure should be agreed with us.
  • Accompanying document(s) which provide all the data gathered as part of the exercise.
  • Comprehensive referencing of all the data sources used.
  • Attendance by researchers at a roundtable to present the findings and receive feedback from us (and selected sector and government stakeholders).

Output and deadlines

The timeline for submissions is:

Deadline for clarification questions (Clarification Deadline) - 25 March 2020

Deadline for us to respond to clarification questions – 27 March 2020

Deadline for submission of ITT (intent to tender) responses by potential suppliers (Response Deadline) – 3 April 2020

Interviews with short-listed bidders (if required) – week commencing 6 April 2020

Final decision – 15 April 2020

Contract concluded with winning supplier - 17 April 2020

Contract start date and invoice submission for first payment - 20 April 2020

Analysis and all data output delivered – 22 May 2020

How to apply

A full outline of the proposal request, the instructions for responding and evaluation criteria are available as part of the tender opportunity accessible on our portal.

You must register an account before you can express an interest in the tender and download the tender pack.