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British Council

What is the opportunity?  

The British Council wishes to commission a literature review to build trust and understanding of the role of trust between the people of the UK and the peoples of other countries. Previous research undertaken by the British Council has highlighted the value of trust in international relations and the sources of trust. Our biennial soft power perceptions survey collects data on three trust metrics: trust in people, trust in government and trust in institutions. Analysis of the soft power survey datasets has revealed a significant relationship between the work of the British Council and trust in the UK government.

At this time of transition for the UK as it pursues a future outside of the EU and ‘tilts’ to the Indo-Pacific, the British Council, its UK funders and partners need to have a comprehensive understanding of how trust impacts international relations. In order to inform future strategy and planning,the British Council wishes to commission a review of publicly available information and data, collect further data, and carry out analysis that enables it to fully understand the value of trust.

Research objectives:

The research commission has three distinct but interrelated elements: 

  • A literature review that identifies theories and/or conceptual frameworks that explicitly consider, or are transferrable to, the role and impact of trust in international relations 
  • An investigation into available data sets (quantitative and qualitative) from empirical studies examining the tangible effects of levels of trust in international interactions between people, businesses, institutions and governments. 
  • An assessment of the most meaningful and appropriate concepts and measures/metrics by which cultural relations organisations can make sense of how trust is created and to explain the tangible value that trust has in international relations; and in doing so provide a critique and assessment as to the validity and usefulness of the measures of connections, understanding and trust, tracked in the British Council’s soft power survey. 

The review of literature and relevant empirical data should cover the full spectrum of international relations, including the role of trust in: avoiding conflict and conflict recovery; people, cultural and educational exchange; international trade and investment; and foreign aid.

Qualifications required:

We are looking for a supplier with: 

  • Experience in delivering reviews and recommendations for large international organisations
  • Demonstrably strong analytical, writing and communication skills
  • Strong understanding of cultural relations, soft power and their role in international relations and foreign policy
  • Strong understanding of the UK political context, particularly around international relations and foreign policy
  • Offering good value for money
  • Ability to deliver on tight time frames and meet deadlines.

Outputs and deadlines:

The selected supplier(s) will be expected to engage closely with British Council colleagues and stakeholders throughout the research. This approach will help to determine the exact focus of the research and its outputs.

Outputs from the research process are expected to include:

  • A review of academic literature and data
  • A referenced and linked list of the best available literature and data sources
  • A review of the measures of connections, understanding and trust, with specific reference to the metrics tracked in the British Council’s soft power perceptions survey but also considering other UK and international surveys.
  • A report with the findings collected in the form of one comprehensive, fully referenced document with annexed resources.

Final deliverables for the project are expected to include:

  • The researchers should additionally develop a presentation (.ppt) of the research and resources and make themselves available to present the findings, recommendations and resources to senior British Council staff and answer questions.

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 on our procurement portal, reference number BC/02165.


Date / time

RFP Issued to bidding suppliers

Monday 15 November 2021

Deadline for clarification questions (Clarification Deadline)

Friday 19 November 2021

British Council to respond to clarification questions

Friday 26 November 2021

Deadline for submission of Proposals by potential suppliers (Response Deadline)

Friday 3 December 2021

Final Decision

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Contract concluded with winning supplier

Monday 20 December 2021

Contract start date

Wednesday 5 January 2022