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Diplomats and Diplomacy for the 21st Century

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Publication Date: September 2002

Publisher(s): Pardee Rand Graduate School

Author(s): Gustav Lindstrom

Topic: International relations (Diplomacy)

Type: Report


For the diplomat of the 21st century, success hinges on proficiency in a multitude of areas and familiarity with a variety of technological tools. Today's diplomats also require strong teamwork skills to collaborate with other groups, such as humanitarian organizations operating in the same host country. The U.S. Department of State currently uses 13 dimensions, covering a wide area of competencies, to gauge the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of prospective applicants. The department has recently added a quantitative skills requirement, but technology competencies are not yet part of the dimensions. A comparative analysis of human resource (HR) requirements among public, private, and nonprofit organizations with international missions reveals that State competes for similar sets of individuals. In many areas, its practices also lag those of the Defense Department and other federal agencies, and it is facing an uphill struggle to recruit highly qualified individuals with sought-after characteristics. The study recommends creating an integrated HR strategy, speeding up the recruitment process (e.g., by widening chokepoints in the clearance process), and boosting retention programs.