What is Soft Power Hard Power

Soft Power and Hard Power, Situation in Portugal

Soft power is a concept created in 2004 by Joseph Nye and which has been developed to determine the political characteristics of countries, including Portugal. Annually, a report is published with the ranking of countries by the score of this indicator. Hard power vs soft power, what distinguishes these two concepts.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The power

In politics, power is for the researcher, Joseph Nye, the ability to influence people's behaviors and obtain, through them, certain results.

These results, in political terms, can be, for example, to obtain more votes in an election or in a referendum. But the result can also be to obtain advantages in the context of international negotiation.

In order to obtain this power, behavior can be influenced in two antagonistic ways:

  • Coercing with threats or inducing certain behavior through payments, through corruption
  • Co-opt, attracting and making these people interested and cooperating for the cause we intend

hard power

On the other hand, the use of coercive or unethical means, by contrast, is called hard power.

Text indicating ADVERTISING

Military interventions or economic sanctions are examples of hard power.

Soft Power

Getting others to want what we want, without using coercion but using empathy and trust, is what Joseph Nye called soft power.

Thus, soft power is the ability of a country to influence the performance of other international “players”, whether countries, companies or pressure groups, through persuasion and not weapons and money.

Finally, knowing the effects of hard power vs soft power, the balanced combination of the two forms of power, in a winning strategy, is smart power.

Hard Power vs Soft Power

Large international institutions and states use soft power more or less effectively, depending on their capabilities.

This power is a way to achieve the intended objective, because to exercise hard power, more aggressive, economic, financial or military means are needed.

A country to exercise soft power has the possibility of using three resources:

Text indicating ADVERTISING
  • Its culture, in the relevant part and attractive to others
  • The political values
  • Foreign policies, when and where they are recognized as legitimate and with moral authority

With soft power, “the best advertising is not advertising” as Nye said, but achieving great credibility, which nowadays is a resource that we can say is scarce.

Soft Power Ranking

In the 2019 report, of the 30 countries with the best soft power score, published by Soft Power 30 from Portland, lies Portugal.

Portugal had the 2015nd position in 22, evolved to the 21st position in 2016 and was stabilized in the 22nd position from 2017 to 2019.

The evolution from 2015 to 2019 of the soft power indicator was shown in the chart.

For comparison with other countries, the table of the 30 best countries and the evolution of the indicator between 2018 and 2019 are presented below.

Table - Soft Power 2018 - 2019, Source: Soft Power 30
Position 2019Countryscore 2019score 2018
2United Kingdom79,4780,55
10The Netherlands72,0373,79
13Spain (España)71,0569,11
17New Zealand67,4566,68
19South Korea63,0062,75
24Czech Republic54,3552,64

Portugal, although remaining in the same position, improved the indicator from 57,98 to 59,28.

This evolution was mainly due to a cautious financial policy that allowed the improvement of credit notifications by the rating agencies.

With this improvement, it was possible to boost the confidence of foreign investment.

The history, culture and language in Portugal are the favorable points that most contributed to this soft power score. Thus, the greater visibility and recognition these parameters have, the more this distinctive factor will increase.

In this context, foreign policies, especially those that take into account privileged relations with Portuguese-speaking countries and Portuguese-descendant communities in South and North America, will be the ones that should be further developed.

The Brand Finance Report

In 2022 the report published by Brand Finance places Portugal in the 32nd position with the top 5 countries namely, United States of America (USA), United Kingdom, Germany, China and Japan.

Portugal's score is 41,0, up by 0,2 but down from its 2021th position in 28.

This report highlights three aspects:

1st The most valued domains refer to familiarity and reputation. Thus, the strengthening of international communication and marketing must increasingly value these particularities of Portugal and the Portuguese in general, as well as their very particular way of receiving those who visit them. Show and attract internationally what you can enjoy from genuinely Portuguese history and culture.

2nd The image and reputation that Portugal has among specialists such as scientists, managers, journalists, politicians, among others, is better than the one it has among the general public. Hence the importance of investing in more aggressive marketing aimed at this audience, to improve our image and the Portugal Brand.

3rd The lowest score in Portugal is in education and science, with 2,6, which contrasts with Germany's score of 7,5. A bet that we are not achieving and that needs to be substantially improved.


A country that does not have the military and economic power of the great powers must bet on the ability to interact internationally and focus on using its soft power.

Our centenary presence in almost all continents, the sea that has always embraced us and a common language with the various countries that make up the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) do not only represent an opportunity, but an obligation to improve our capabilities. of international influence.

Leveraging our levels of education and science is a long task but one to which we cannot fail to lend all our efforts. A better policy to encourage meritocracy, with better-structured performance evaluation systems, should be a priority and should be extended to other sectors of Public Administration.

These are aspects that can position us better in the country reputation ranking and improve soft power.

See too

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

As you found this post useful ...

Follow us on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Leave a Comment

Your email address Will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment is processed.

Privacy Policy          Terms and Conditions

Scroll to Top