Performance regimes tackling systemic problems must confront inherent limitations to powers of prediction and control. Drawing from Joseph Nye’s theory of soft power, we show how performance regimes can operate through attraction and agenda setting rather than traditional ‘hard power’ mechanisms of financial inducement and coercion. We analyze the deployment and interaction of soft and hard power mechanisms in a comparative case study analysis of the implementation of national wellbeing frameworks in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We find that soft power offers an alternative means of implementation in situations of goal complexity and dispersed power, however the strategy presents its own limitations. We suggest greatest progress can be attained through the strategic interaction of soft power and hard power mechanisms in ‘smart-powered’ performance regimes.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Apr 2022|