Small states are challenged with lower levels of influence than larger states and require special strategies to overcome these challenges. Multilateral organisations (“MLOs”) are often dominated by larger members who have traditionally been leaders of these organisations. Soft power strategies, through attraction and co-option, are viable alternatives for small states to gain influence within MLOs.
The aim of this research was to formulate a typology of soft power strategies and a framework which small states can use to gain influence within MLOs. A qualitative and exploratory study was conducted, which involved semi-structured interviews with six respondents. A multiple case study approach that analysed four countries within four MLOs was used.
The findings were that the greater the number of soft power sources possessed by a party, the greater the strength of such party’s soft power. It was inconclusive that open markets and open communication is better suited to using soft power. The common interest principle was found to be a necessary condition for the effective use of soft power. The overall finding was that soft power strategies are dependent on the strength of the soft power source and the type of context within which it is exercised. A framework was formulated for the use of soft power.